By Dustin Cabeal
The Hard Place is clearly a story that’s not meant to be judged by the first issue alone. Which makes a review for the first issue all the more difficult to write. Here we are though, and I can only judge what’s here in this first issue.
The gist of the story is an ex-wheelman is released from prison and is getting his life back together. It’s not an unfamiliar story, but there is a nice twist in that our ex-con goes to visit his ex-kingpin to tell him he’s out of the business.
The bulk of the story is dialogue, but thankfully it’s natural flowing and doesn’t come across as exposition. There is a spot at the end that had me scratching my head. Without giving it away, Gurney, the main guy, runs into some people he knows and they proceed to use his real name and theirs while committing some criminal activities; which is strange considering… they’re conducting criminal activities.
Gurney also doesn’t want to drive anymore, even after receiving numerous offers from his bad influence cop friend. That was a decent twist to his character and could prove to be interesting if he continues down that path. The part that did delve into the realm of “typical” was the kingpin character. His scene was too eccentric and only there to show his ruthlessness. Since it’s so typical though, it’s not that it’s amazing, but rather just a, “yeah… he’s the bad guy.”
The writing is solid. Doug Wagner controls the flow of the story quite nicely. At times it feels as if it’s about to drag, but instead it manages to continue without dipping. Again, the dialogue is natural feeling up until the ending.
The artwork is the strongest part of the first issue. The linework is extremely thick with dark ink work. There’s a realistic style to it, but it still maintains almost a street art look. The coloring is similar in that it also has a street art feeling, not that it’s spray painted or anything, but just the color tones. There’s a lot of purples and light blues throughout. The flashbacks are all-black and white and red, which gives it a unique look that stands out. Overall Charlie Kirchoff’s coloring was a great fit for Rummel’s artwork. It may be weird to point out randomly near the end of the review, but I liked Frank Cvetkovic’s lettering. It had a nice contrast to the coloring and was a very dynamic font.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about this first issue, but the ending does raise some concerns. I have more comments with spoilers on this week’s Comic Bastards Podcast if you want to hear more. Unfortunately, my problems with this issue mostly reside with the ending, which I don’t particularly want to spoil in a written review. I’ll be back for the second issue, but we’ll have to wait and see if this ends up being the typical ex-con back in the life or something else.
The Hard Place #1
Writer: Doug Wagner
Artist: Nic Rummel
Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff
Letterer: Frank Cvetkovic
Publisher: Image Comics