RU sits back and reads the debut comic from new publisher, Gentleman Baby Comics, and likes what he sees.
Written By: Craig Schroeder
Art By: Daniel Hooker
Published By: Gentleman Baby Comics
It’s been about a year since I started writing more than just RUviews for The Outhouse and in that time I have developed an unhealthy obsession with readership numbers. Not just my own, but the stats of the whole site. I know we do good work here, I know that what we have to say is not only funny, but provides a necessary commentary for an industry that takes itself way too seriously, and yet every day I find myself screaming “Why is no one reading this?” This feeling of ennui has created in me empathy for talented creators who are also just looking for a platform to get their books out there. I love that writing for The Outhouse provides me with opportunities to review books the bigger sites ignore. Sometimes (often) the books I read are independent for a reason, but every once in a while I read a comic that reminds me why I love comic books. Hit! #1 is one of those.
Hit! tells the story of Connor Connolly, a Hit! man for an Irish crime organization, and the consequences from a failed job in Arkansas three months ago. Most of the issue comes in the form of a journal Connor is writing detailing the assignment that landed him in the hospital, but there are snidbits of Connor’s childhood and the circumstances that led to his current occupation. Connor, we learn though his writing is a Parker-esque criminal in the sense that he prides himself on doing things the right way, not the flashy way. When partnered with an idiot, Connor takes the time to explain the difference between doing things correctly, brining the right weapon for the job, and the things needed to make sure he and his partner do not get caught. For his part, Brandon, Connor’s partner, it a complete tool who needs a smack. Think Mr. White and Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs respectively. All of this leads up to a confrontation in Arkansas that ends with Connor seriously injured questioning everything he thought he knew about his relationship to his boss, Patrick O’Reilly.
Craig Schroeder’s script and dialogue maintains a natural flow throughout the issue that never stumbles or takes the reader out of the story. From the onset everything is from Patrick’s point of view, and there is never that annoying feeling of “how did he know that?” when the reader has to fill-in-the-blanks of conversations held “off screen.” We know what Connor knows, when Connor is blindsided so are we. Schroeder does such a good job of keeping the reader engaged that they don’t even know that there is something that they are supposed to be trying to figure out, therefore, when the twist comes (you knew there had to be one) it is an odd combination of “I should have seen that coming” and “what!?” Furthermore, Schroeder and Hooker’s reveal is in the middle of the issue, leaving plenty of time for the mystery to take shape and solidify in the readers' minds, making the desire to read issue #2 based on a need to find out what's going on and not a tired cliffhanger motif.
Daniel Hooker’s art is brilliant in some places. The comic is mostly black and white, but that doesn’t fully describe the look of the book. From the hospital bed, Connor’s story is told in bright whites, the reader can almost disinfectant perma-smell that permeates hospitals. The bungled job from three months ago, on the other hand, is all shaded in black. There are shadows everywhere and the reader is never quite sure if they, or Connor, are seeing everything there is to see. Conversely, Connor’s childhood is seen though a green lens that provides a cheery backdrop that foreshadows the troubles to come.
Both the writing and the art are in need of some refinement. First, Connor’s journal is hand written and the penmanship is not always the easiest to make out. Furthermore, although the story itself is enough to keep the reader interested, there were some points of dialogue that felt like the participants were having two different conversations. They were talking about the same thing, but the tone and connotation were so disconnected that it was difficult to tell. For his part, Hooker appears to change style from page to page and even panel to panel. There are instances of great detail and realism followed by images that look like they were squeezed in order to fit into place.
Overall, Hit! #1 is a good comic book. A fantastic debut effort from two creators I hope to see more of. If you can’t find Hit! in your comic book store, you can download a PDF version from GentlemanBabyComics.com. As I grow more and more frustrated with the “corporate rock” paradigm DC and Marvel are stuck in books like Hit! give me hope for the future.