I think there is a part of everyone, whether they admit it or not, that wants to experience the wrong side of the law. I think we all want to feel the rush of robbing a bank and making a clean getaway. Of course, law enforcement frowns upon these actions so instead we read books like The Hard Place!
So what is The Hard Place?
The Hard Place is the latest book from writer Doug Wagner (Plastic, I.C.E.) and artist Nic Rummel. The book centers around newly released felon, AJ Gurney, a legendary wheelman in Detroit. AJ has been imprisoned for five years and now he has been released with the promises of staying on the straight and narrow while helping his father run his garage.
The Hard Place starts out in a familiar way we have all seen. AJ is released from prison, picked up by his law enforcement buddy, and immediately struggles with being out as a free man. He wants to do right and stay out of jail but he feels the need to make amends with the crime boss he wronged. AJ has a quick visit with the boss, Mr Sidorov. Sidorov assures AJ that his debt was paid off and he never wants to see his face again. All is well as AJ goes to restart his life with his father, but old habits die hard, and AJ finds himself in the middle of a bank robbery. Worse for him is the bank robbers recognize him and even call him out in the middle of the robbery. Not too good for a young guy just trying to get a loan at the bank in order to help his father.
But Dave, is it good?
It isn’t bad. But it didn’t necessarily blow me out of the water either. The Hard Place #1 didn’t inspire me to throw on a mask and live out my bank robber fantasy. Saying that is a bit disappointing. Wagner, who just finished up Plastic, a book that I loved from the start does an outstanding job of creating characters. I don’t have any doubts that the characters in the story will evolve — it is only the first issue but I wanted just a bit more. The first issue went at a pretty quick pace, including quick glimpses at the getaway car upside down after a failed attempt at escaping.
The one character that did stand out was Mr Sidorov. He doesn’t play games with the individuals that cross him and also seems to be a fan of American History X. Curb stomp, anyone? He was easily the most interesting character in the issue.
I have mixed feelings on the artwork. I liked Kirchoff’s colors, but some of Rummel’s art wasn’t working for me. There are some panels that look really good and then there are some that aren’t as detailed and leaves the panel vacant. An example is there are a lot of pictures on walls or on desks, but nothing inside them, it just look like a bunch of empty frames that was bought at the store. I might sound really nit picky about it, but it is something that caught my attention.
Overall the book isn’t bad, I will most likely continue the story. I want to see what happens to AJ and I know that Wagner will flesh out the characters more once the story really gets going. So my faith is not lost in The Hard Place just yet.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!