Hit: 1957 #1 (of 4)
Written by Bryce Carlson
Illustrated by Vanesa R. Del Rey
Colors by Niko Guardia
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Review by Joey Braccino
“Bonnie didn’t want to hurt anybody… she had to.
And she was damn good at it.”
There’s something about noir and comics that just works. I mean there’s detective and crime fiction, yeah, and it’s a huge market, but noir and comics, man… it just clicks. Maybe it’s the visual aspect—the merging of hard-boiled narration and gritty, pulpy, shadowy linework, the mixing of brutal one-liners with stark red or indigo washes. We like a good crime thriller, but we also love the morbidity of watching a crime thriller, and comics like Hit: 1957 brings the noir and brings the noir hard.
Creators Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey were nominated for a Harvey Award back in 2013 for their portrayal of a sordid, corrupt Los Angeles in the BOOM! miniseries Hit: 1955. Now, Carlson and Del Rey are revisiting the world and characters they created for this sequel mini-series, Hit: 1957. And it is awesome. Carlson’s morally bankrupt world mesh wonderfully with Del Rey’s moody, pulpy imagery, resulting in some of the best artistic synergy on the stands. Work in Niko Guardia’s vivid purple and scarlet washes of color and you’ve got one of the most engaging comics on the stands this week.
The story follows two primary characters—both holdovers from Hit: 1955, though there’s no real need to have read the first mini-; I hadn’t and I was able to suss out relationships and conflicts with relative ease—Bonnie Brae and Detective Harvey Slater. Bonnie has been living in San Clemente as “Marie Collins,” apparently trying to escape her not-so-savory past life in the criminal underworld. As is often the case with stories like these, that new life she’s leading disappears right quick (within the first two pages, so not really spoilers). Detective Slater, despite the relative “calm” of Los Angeles in 1957, is dead-set on breaking open the next big case, unable to escape his old life of gangbusting and shootouts. Needless to say, he doesn’t have to wait too long either. Essentially, both narratives—Bonnie’s and Slater’s—revolve around this concept of at once hating the game and wanting desperately to get back into the game. The two narratives don’t intersect in this issue (but they will eventually), but there is enough thematic tissue tying the two characters together (and a history I’m sure—I plan on reading Hit: 1955 on the merits of this sequel debut alone) to keep the story going. No spoilers, but the characterization is stellar (there’s a great beat between Slater and one of his “I’m so over this” comrades-in-arms) and the narrative is tight and quick.
And damn are Carlson and Del Rey (and Guardia and Dukeshire) good at their jobs. The narration is brutal and detached; the visuals are just so rich and so dynamic. The opening sequence alone is a masterclass in perspective and storytelling.
BUY. There’s no shortage of good noir on the comics stands these days, but Hit: 1957 is some of the best noir storytelling coming from some of the best creators out there. There is an energy and a synergy in what Carlson and Del Rey are doing on Hit, and you’ve just go to be a part of it. Check it!