If you read my review for Hit #1 on the site, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to reading issue two. The first issue was one of my favorite issues I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing so far and congrats to the team for it going to a second printing. This second installment shows that the old mantra “keep your friends close and enemies closer” rings true for Slater and the gang. The end of the last issue was a precursor to pretty much everything going awry in Slater’s life. Ken Collins was brutally murdered; he was shot once in each eye socket, and then tossed off the Broadway Bridge. Five years prior, Harvey Slater and Collins made up the original ‘hit squad,’ carefully chosen by Captain Arthur Blair. We learn that this was short-lived because in 1950, Collins arrested Captain Blair’s daughter Bonnie (whom Slater is now sleeping with and ‘protecting’), because he wanted a spot in the Narcotics Division. Slater ended up breaking his jaw in an altercation, and Captain Blair sent him to the Wilshire Division where he was nothing more than a lowly cop. He remained at this position until the time of his death. Slater claims Collins’ murder was the work of a professional and they’ll never find any evidence as to who had committed the crime, but Collins wasn’t the first dead cop to show up that day. At the end of the first issue, Bonnie murders Detective Randy McDowell, painting the wall with his guts thanks to a shotgun blast to the stomach. Bonnie claims that he was a Cleveland hitman who was sent to kill her while posing as a cop. Bonnie didn’t tell the truth much, but Slater believes her on this one.
Slater starts to think there’s a weird coincidence that Collins wanted to talk to him the day of his murder. Was he trying to tell him something? That was one of the few times in five years they had even seen each other. All Slater did in that conversation was embarrass him and break his nose, when we figure out Ken Collins actually saved Slater on numerous accounts. The hit squad is then assigned a new target: the porn-producing, money-laundering (for Mickey Cohen to be precise) Michael “Fingers” Marconato.
Things finally start to look up as they’re able to arrest Mr. Schwartz, who had a warrant out for his arrest following the Schwartz homicide. Sticky is along with Slater on this one, but they had a little help from an officer named Carl Haywood. Haywood actually hits Schwartz with a rock, which knocks him down and allows for Sticky and Slater to make the arrest. I don’t want to give any more events in this book away because the ones I haven’t mentioned are momentous, so I’ll just say this: Slater is starting to show off his detective work. Lines are just starting to be connected regarding who’s after Bonnie and who is involved regarding Ken Collins’ murder.
As I said in the first review, I love the art. This time I enjoyed the change of scenery. For example, when Slater and Sticky arrest Schwartz, he’s on a beach. It was refreshing to see a blue sky and water, with the sand and lush green grass rather than the dark underbelly of L.A. all the time. Writing-wise this issue is brilliant. The story alone is extremely captivating, but this book will make you laugh at some points too. The extra attention to detail with certain inferences like Collins being a ‘fish out of water’ and he ‘burned bridges’ shows the strength of the creative teamwork, because the panel shows the detectives under the bridge where he was thrown off. If it had been another panel, it wouldn’t have made as much sense, and in this case it actually made me chuckle.
I wish there were more real ‘hit squad’ stories in the back of the book like the first issue and some of the 1950’s advertisements spoof-like advertisements would have been great, but these are minor gripes. This is a noir story that will have you deeply invested in its cast of characters and every seedy section of the city they explore. I’m excited to see what comes next, and judging by the nature of the twists and turns thus far, I have no idea what that is but I’ll sure be following this story until its bitter end.
Writer: Bryce Carlson Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey Publisher: Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/2/2013