What if Catwoman was a South Beach twunk? That’s kinda the set up for the very sexy comic book miniseries Sins of the Black Flamingo that just wrapped its five-issue run with Image Comics. Lashings of occult mysteries mix with Miami heat to give us a sultry new “rainbow noir” tale.
Sebastian Harlow is the living embodiment of “be gay, do crimes”. As the not-so-gentlemanly thief, “The Black Flamingo” is DTR (“down to rob”) and specializes in stealing mystical artifacts, like a pornified version of Indiana Jones. But Harlow’s latest discovery leaves him stuck between a literal golem with a rockin’ body, and a very hard piece of the divine.
Sins of the Black Flamingo is crisp, clean and sexy, as only artist Travis Moore can render. Like 80s gay porn, full of waxed “Muscle Marys” with defined tan lines and tight denim. Moore has been upping the artistic ante on DC superheroes like Nightwing, Superman, and Wonder Woman for a while now, and with Black Flamingo he’s channelled his impossibly handsome aesthetic into a purely queer lens. The colors by Tamra Bonvillain are rich and luscious and there is a real sense of luxury to the visuals that draws the eye.
But as any ageing twink knows, pretty only gets you so far. Writer Andrew Wheeler provides a terrific vehicle with his story and script. Conjuring a narrative of dark magic set in the Florida heat, it’s a great excuse for extravagant outfits showing lots of skin, while also setting up some serious character work. Harlow’s narcissistic attitude seeps into the pages, in his monologuing and his body language, but it doesn’t take long to peel back the façade and see that it’s just a form of armor to protect himself. When his new discovery rocks his nihilistic world, the self-assured trappings drop away and reveal an early-mid-gay-twink-life-crisis.
Wheeler uses elements of Jewish folklore to tell a queer love triangle that touches on generations of pain. Not something I expected from a book that looked as thotty as my Instagram search page. And it’s a comic book, so we get Nazis. There are always Nazis in comic books at some point.
Sins of the Black Flamingo (not to be confused with Dean Atta’s book The Black Flamingo that you definitely should read as well – ★★★★★ stunning!) comes to a strong and satisfying conclusion, but definitely left me wanting more from these creators. This is glorious eye-candy with a heart-of-sequins and a tantalizing queer heist-caper through steamy Miami, and I am here for it!
By Chad Armstrong
Sins of the Black Flamingo by Andrew Wheeler and Travis Moore is currently available in individual issues from your local comic book store (or digital variety), and will be released in paperback in February 2023 by Image Comics, available for pre-order now.
All images: Art by Travis Moore. Colours by Tamra Bonvillain. Script by Andrew Wheeler. Letters by Aditya Bidikar.