Billed as a Scream! One-Shot Special, Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh gives readers two tales featuring the eponymous swordswoman and a bonus short story featuring Death-Man, from the pages of The Vigilant.

Black Beth is an oddly underused and little-known character with a fascinating history. Originally created in the 70s, the comic she was intended for never reached publication – so the character lay dormant and forgotten until the 80s. Black Beth has since been revived and featured in two Scream!/Misty Specials, but this one-off issue is her first solo comic (Death-Man bonus strip notwithstanding).

The first tale sees Beth and blind companion Quido on the trail of a long-dead sorceress who seems to be making a return to the land of the living. It’s full of fun, brilliantly drawn swords and sorcery action. Mononymous artist Dani’s art is breathtakingly beautiful, with some incredible use of stylised colouring, with some impressive creature design and a real sense of otherworldliness. Writer Alec Worley throws in a neat twist or two to keep readers on their toes too. It’s superb.

Worley’s second Black Beth tale is a very brief one, but gives us a bit of insight into how her faithful companion Quido views their relationship. The black and white art by Andrea Bulgarelli – who also provides the excellent cover – feels a lot more traditional than Dani’s more stylised approach, but isn’t given enough pages to truly flex his wings with the material; I’d definitely like to see him tackle a longer form Black Beth story in the future.

Finally, we have the Death-Man short, which sees the title character tracking down a target who’s been elusive for a very long time, using some very inventive methods. Like the shorter Black Beth story, it is a bit brief but the hyperactive, luridly coloured horror comic style art – by Vincenzo Riccardi – makes a big impression.

With a few beautiful pin-up style pages also making an appearance, Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh works overtime to give readers value for money; with the number of Rebellion Specials way down on last year’s impressive line-up – which took me not one, but two whole articles to summarise, along with reviews of each one throughout the year – each of the 2021 Specials has a lot more room to breathe, but also needs to do that much more to impress readers hungry for content. Though this year’s 2000AD Sci-Fi Special felt like a bit of a letdown (and wasted the potential of its supposed uber-crossover concept, that didn’t really come together as hyped), Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh is another excellent one-shot from Rebellion that really demonstrates why Black Beth should be in print far more than she has been until now.

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