Black Beth and The Devils of Al-Kadesh

Triton attack!
Triton attack!

This 32-page one-shot comic special, written by Alec Worley and drawn by DaNi, features the return of Black Beth, a female warrior originally developed in the early 1970s by Spanish artist Blas Gallego (and an unknown writer).

A quick lowdown on Black Beth…
The original Black Beth story was going to appear in a comic that unfortunately never went ahead, so the first tale eventually went to print in the pages of Scream! Holiday Special in 1988 (SCREAM! was a British weekly horror anthology comic aimed at younger readers).
Black Beth then appeared many years later in a couple more tales, now written by Alec (2000 AD) Worley and drawn by DaNi. These two stories were featured in the Scream! & Misty Halloween Special in 2018 and the Misty & Scream! Special in 2020.

Beth confronts a rock-creature on the beach of an island...
Beth confronts a rock-creature on the beach of the Isle of Phantoms…

Black Beth and The Devils of Al-Kadesh is the latest Black Beth yarn, which has the swordswoman and her blind companion Quido venture to the city of Al-Kadesh, on a mission to prevent the place from being destroyed by a dead (but not actually dead) witch called Anis-Amuun. But just who is it that really wants to wipe out this wicked city that is also known as ‘Hell’s Cauldron’?

Beth meets the Templars
Can Beth trust the Templars?
Andrea Bulgarelli's wonderful cover art
Andrea Bulgarelli’s wonderful cover art

The sword and sorcery story is pretty no-nonsense and moves along in a pacy manner, with Beth encountering the Templars of the Cleansing Dawn and fighting pincered Tritons, which we are told are carrion-eaters from the sea bottom. There’s also a large, four-eyed spectral owl that is the familiar of Seer Estevan, a pterosaur-like creature that is ridden at one point by Beth, and a couple of sorcery-created rock-beings.

Tritons with spiky carapaces!
Eek! Tritons with spiky carapaces!
Beth astride the pterosaur-beast
Beth astride the pterosaur-beast

The main pleasure to the found with this comic, however, is DaNi’s artwork. It is colourful, comprised of masses of scratchy ink lines and has a real Euro-comics vibe to it (DaNi is Greek, born in Athens). Her art style here edges towards the abstract sometimes, giving the impression she did some of the line-work super-fast, then overlaying it all with luscious colours: pinks, greens, blues and mauves. And she’s also not scared to leave some areas of the page white. The panel and page layouts are a pleasure to the eyes.
(DaNi scanned different watercolour brush strokes she made so she could work on the colours on her own digitally, adding them to her inks, which were drawn traditionally and then scanned).

A spectral owl - with four eyes!
A spectral owl – with four eyes!

In addition to the lead 32-page story, this publication has back-up stories by Alec Worley, Andrea Bulgarelli, Doug Graves and Vincenzo Riccardi, pin-ups by David Roach and Andreas Butzbach, plus an awesome cover by Andrea Bulgarelli.

I love the scribbly detail and lush colours in each panel
I love the scribbly detail and lush colours in each panel
ad for Black Beth

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