Everyone loves the archetype of the gentleman thief, the anti-hero who makes their living by breaking the rules with panache and a dry wit. These archetypes mainly steal from those with money, power, or both. Sebastian Harlow, also known as the Black Flamingo, certainly fits that mold while standing out among other rakish rogues. An expert in the acquisition of mystical artifacts and looking good while doing it, his latest job could change his whole outlook on life, provided he survives, in Sins of the Black Flamingo, written by Andrew Weaver and illustrated by Travis Moore.
Sebastian has made it his business to infiltrate the seedy underbelly of Miami’s occult items market in order to rob it blind. Like Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel, he wears a mask—a glittering masquerade mask—that hides his identity while also being his signature look. However, his life as a gentleman thief is a lonely one. There is his one friend, Ofelia, who serves as his mystical advisor and reluctant conscience, trying to direct him to do more good works. But Sebastian has mostly lived by his wits and according to his whims until a new assignment, and a truly rare acquisition, has him questioning his role in the universe.
Sebastian is a gay man who doesn’t mind being a little flamboyant, hence his uniform of sparkling mask and feathered collar, but Weaver never lets him descend into parody or become one-dimensional. He jokes about finding a handsome detective with which to have the cliched game of cat and mouse, and openly flirts with the chiseled male specimens he encounters. But he also has a very nihilistic view of humanity that gets brutally questioned and reaffirmed throughout the story. Most of Sebastian’s worldview is thanks to a supernatural encounter, but it could also be a byproduct of his existence as a gay man in this current political climate, which Weaver displays in all its ugly, dog-whistling glory. In the first part of the series, Sebastian steals from the Museum of American Heritage and Culture, which is just as racist and repugnant as it sounds.
Setting this story in Miami lets this story be sexy while also giving a chance for Moore’s artwork to shine. Nearly everyone who exists in this world could have been borrowed from fashion catalogs and, thanks to Miami’s warm climate, there are plenty of opportunities for them to show their bodies. Indeed, Moore shows he can draw a svelte male body in the same way many other artists can showcase women in pinup poses. Miami might be a pastel wonderland full of beautiful people, but Moore also shows he can reveal the supernatural horrors that prowl alongside the real world horrors.
Sins of the Black Flamingo definitely belongs in the adult section, with its portrayals of sex and violence, but this book is much more than titillating eye candy. It offers readers a very compelling hero and it shows him fighting in a world too close to our own that desperately needs him.
Sins of the Black Flamingo
By Andrew Wheeler
Art by Travis Moore
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Gay
Character Representation: Gay