The Hard Place #1 (Image Comics)
Nothing deep about my initial reason for choosing this comic: I liked the cover. It’s beautiful. Look at this:
We get into a lot of depth when talking about comics here and I feel like we sometimes gloss over that comics are a visual medium. Good story does not work without complimentary artwork in comics – it’s one of the reasons that some rather good nineties stories make for unreadable comics now because the art is just terrible.
Art isn’t everything, though – it’ll get people interested but will not hold them if there isn’t enough of a story to keep people on point. Back in the Nerdcouver days, Jenna and Nathan and myself all picked up a comic because of the eye-catching cover and then talked about how the story was lacking. I don’t even remember the comic, which I think proves my point.
This comic doesn’t look like it’s going to suffer a lack in either department, though: on the writing side of things you’ve got Doug Wagner, and the art is being handled by Charlie Kirchoff and Nic Rummel. Cover artist Brian Stelfreeze isn’t handling the interiors, sadly, but Charlie Kirchoff and Nic Rummel aren’t anyone to just pass over, either. Charlie’s been doing some interesting color work over on Doctor Who, and you might not know Nic Rummel’s inks now, but you will. Soon.
Doug Wagner is the warped mastermind behind Plastic, a serial killer romp that you should be reading, and Average Joes – and if you’ve read either of those then you know what sort of quality you’re getting into here. Moving away from supers and psychopaths, Doug is flexing his cranial muscles and introducing us to former wheelman and living legend, AJ Gurney.
AJ Gurney has just spent five years in prison and has every intention of going straight. His dad has a garage and he’s feeling pretty good about going to work there and vanishing, letting the legend fade away as he goes about his life. Things seem to be going okay for him until he makes a stop at a bank and a robbery takes place.
Here’s where things get weird: he’s recognized by the robbers and they’re fans – such big fans that they want him to be their getaway driver. He refuses, so they take a hostage and threaten to kill her if he doesn’t do what they want – but she’s the daughter of a local Russian mob boss. And the police, well, AJ is a man of a color and an ex-con and they aren’t going to take his word on anything.
So now a man who paid his debt has been put in a situation where no one wants to listen to him and it looks like there’s no way out; the Russian mob is going to use their every asset to find him, and the cops assume he’s guilty the same way they do with most people of color. And, of course, there’s the two robbers who are also fans because nothing is ever easy.
Told you that Doug Wagner is a warped mastermind. He’s on a level with the likes of an Ed Brisson or Joshua Williamson or Brubaker when Brubaker is on a rant, so if you like their stuff you’ll dig this a lot.