A.J. Gurney is getting out of prison after five years. A lot has changed since he has been away; his friend is a cop, his girl has sinced married and his father has had medical issues and can’t work like he used to. He wants to go straight and help his father in his mechanic shop. First he has to make sure that there are no strings attached to crime boss Maksim Sidorov. A.J. wants to make sure that Sidorov understands the last job he pulled that landed him in jail was the last. A.J. is finding the straight and narrow hard, so for a little extra financial help he goes to the bank. Unfortunately, his past catches up with him.
There are dozens of stories and movies based on this concept; criminal does time, wants to do right once they leave jail. This is the first issue of The Hard Place so, I am hoping Doug Wagner does something cool with this story. The characters are strong and the beginning looks to be like there is something stronger is simmering underneath. Wagner has a solid lead in A.J., they way this character carries himself, it sounds like he was a criminal out of necessity, he was missing something in his life so it was filled with crime. With Maksim Sidorov, Wagner wrote him as a sadistic crime boss who has no qualms having a dead body in one room while discussing business in the next. I hope that the momentum stays the same in the following issues.
Art and color by Nic Rummel and Charlie Kirchoff is different and I haven’t seen art like this since underground zines or comics. The edges are sharp and dark, which sets the mood of things to come. The line art by Rummel is thick with minimal details, I like the street feel to it, taking place in Detroit it is a crime drama in comic panels. The colors by Kirchoff is easy on the the color palettes but adds shadowing that the line art does not capture, you can see them in little details like the tattoos or birds in the sky. I rather enjoy this take on the comic panels.