It has to suck hard when you are finally out of jail and trying to do the right thing, only to get pulled back into the madness that got you thrown into jail to begin with. That is exactly what has happened to A.J. in the The Hard Place. We are three issues into Doug Wagner’s latest series and things are beginning to take a serious turn for the worse. What is next for poor A.J.?
What have we missed?
The story is three issues in, so you have missed quite a bit. A.J. is fresh out of jail after serving time for bank robbery. He wants to help his father out with his business, so he headed down to the bank with hopes to secure a loan. A.J. walks right into a bank robbery. He’s recognized by one of the robbers and just like that, A.J. is involved in another bank robbery. The situation goes south when the police show up, forcing the bandits to take a young, pretty girl named Alex hostage. Bad luck continues for the robbers as the lady they have kidnapped just happens to be the daughter of a major crime boss in the city.
The Hard Place #3 picks up close to where the second issue ended. The quartet has stolen a new getaway car and are attempting to leave the city. Little do they know, they have more problems than just the police wanting to apprehend them. Alex’s dad has sent The Kabastas Brothers to save Alex, kill the pair of robbers, and bring back A.J., preferably alive. They also have to worry about the common street thugs trying to intercept them as well. Hope all that money they stole was worth all of this!
So, you came around on the second issue. Is this one good?
I had a harder time with this issue than the previous two. I don’t understand the direction that Wagner is taking some of the characters. Z, one of the bank robbers, opens fire on the police after they drove right by them unnoticed. Why the hell would he do that? Is there something else going on that will be revealed later? I sure hope so, because I feel that to be the weakest moment of the series up to this point. Another thing that has me scratching my head is Alex’s father telling the Kabastas to do what they must — he will not hold them responsible. What? That’s your daughter; a minute ago you wanted her safe, now you don’t care? Okay then.
Rummel and Kirchoff’s artwork has been consistent through all three issues. I have complained about the empty panels in the past, and there are still some here in this issue, but I overlooked them. Instead, I am more impressed with the action and car chase penciled by Rummel. He illustrates a fantastic and intense car chase. And Kirchoff has to be out of purple and blue by the end of the book, but he does well to capture the tone of the book.
What’s the verdict?
I feel like The Hard Place #3 takes the story back a step with the progression of the characters. In fact, there isn’t any progression — just some head scratching. I’m not jumping out of the car though. I’m buckled in for the long ride; I just hope that it all pays off at the end of this journey.
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!