A warrior with a name born of the black rage that filled her heart – the old and new adventures of Black Beth collected.
The character Black Beth was first developed in the early ’70s by an unknown writer and Spanish artist Blas Gallego – in fact it may well have been Gallego writing and drawing, alas that information is lost to time. But the finished 23-pager was left for a decade until it saw print in the Scream! Holiday Special 1988.
And that was that, or at least it would have been if not for two things – Rebellion and the Treasury of British Comics acquiring the vast IPC comics archive in 2016 and writer Alec Worley who saw Gallego’s Black Beth in that 1988 Scream! Holiday Special and never forgot it. As he says in his introduction to this collection, he describes pouncing on editor Keith Richardson the first chance he got, ‘eager to work again with Greek sensation DaNi (who had drawn our original Misty strip, Fate of the Fairy Hunter.)’
Well, they did get the chance to bring Black Beth back, for two shorts in the Scream! & Misty Halloween Special in 2018 and the Misty & Scream! Special of 2020. plus the very first Black Beth full-colour, full-length comic, ‘The Devils of Al-Kadesh’, something I looked at in quite some depth here.
In ‘Vengence Be Thy Name‘, we get absolutely everything published of Black Beth, the original 23-pager by Gallego and all of the Alec Worley and DaNi material, and it’s something that, quite amazingly, holds together as one consistent volume, despite the three decades and more between the stories.
It’s pure fantasy adventure done absolutely right, featuring some truly amazing artwork, first by Gallego and then DaNi.
Gallego’s original is a pure sword-swinging fantasy standard for sure, the whole kill the family, survivor trains to take revenge plot is one we’ve read and seen so many times, but the joy is in seeing Gallego’s artwork, so effortlessly sinuous and brutal whilst full of character and expression.
And then, when we leave the past and fast-forward to Worley and DaNi’s work on Black Beth, which is so perfectly sympathetic to the original, first in the black and white and then in the stunning full-colour work of ‘The Devils of Al-Kadesh’. Worley takes the simple idea of the first story and expands on it, makes it deeper and richer – not to mention darker – all aided so well by DaNi’s incredible artwork, evoking Gallego’s line but then veering off into other, sublime directions, Toppi being just one of the artists you could compare it to.
All in all, it’s something of a perfect thing, showcasing a lost classic from the past that would have never have seen the light of day had it not been for the Treasury of British Comics and then making good on the promise to bring classic characters back with the best in the business steering them forward.
Black Beth: Vengence Be Thy Name
Contains the stories Black Beth drawn by Blas Gallego; The Magos of Magic, The Witch Tree, Black Beth & the Devils of Al-Kadesh all written by Alec Worley, art by DaNi, letters by Simon Bowland; Fairy Tales written by Alec Worley, art by Andrea Bulgarelli, letters by Sam Gretton.
Originally serialised in Scream! Holiday Special 1988, Scream! & Misty Specials 2018 and 2020, and Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh.
Published by Rebellion and The Treasury of British Comics on 7th June
Okay then, enough of me telling you all about it, now time for a preview… first that original Blas Gallego Black Beth that started it all off…
And now the modern material featuring the return of Black Beth…