Review: Hard Boiled by Frank Miller, Geof Darrow & Dave Stewart

Hardboiled.jpgThere’s a lot to love about Frank Miller and Geof Darrow’s Hard Boiled, newly republished in an oversized hardcover edition, and it’s all to do with the art.

Try and make sense of Miller’s plot. I dare you. Set in a bleak dystopian future — think Blade Runner, but even more depraved and perverted, and inhabited my ultra-violent robots — the world of Hard Boiled is comprised of A.I. units that look, think and act like normal humans, but are actually corporate assassins. Nixon, our protagonist — because you certainly couldn’t label him a hero — is one of these death machines, who finds himself mixed up in a potential robot revolution.

Of course, your take might vary. Much of Miller’s script is monosyllabic. When dialogue is present, it’s barely there. Hard Boiled is, consciously, a vehicle for Darrow’s intricate, bombastic artwork. His pages are the kind you’ll obsessive over, Where’s Wally-esque in their details. This is a guy who won’t just draw a brick wall; he’ll show all of its cracks. His crowd shots are littered with sub-stories, and he seems to love crafting this profane, horrible world. It’s dirty, it’s nasty, it’s heinous, and certainly not for kids — but it’s damn impressive.

A younger me would’ve loved poster-sized blowups of these pages for my bedroom walls. The almost-thirty me merely enjoyed spending an hour or so enjoying the minutiae of the illustrations. There’s just not enough here for me to wholeheartedly recommend. The plot is too basic, too undercooked, for me to recommend to a sci-fi buff, or a reader seeking a new take on dystopias. Lots to look at and enjoy, but it’s all too fleeting. One to borrow from the library, but unless you’re an art connoisseur, you won’t need more than an hour with this one.

ISBN: 9781506701073
Format: Hardback
Pages: 136
Imprint: Dark Horse Comics,U.S.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics,U.S.
Publish Date: 26-Sep-2017
Country of Publication: United States

Review: Polar – Came from the Cold by Victor Santos

PolarWow.

Sometimes – it’s not very often – you read something that, completely unexpectedly, just blows you away. It’s usually something you picked up on a whim, and having read it, you immediately wish you could return to a time before you’d read it, so could can rediscover that joy for a second time, and bottle it, and hold onto it forever.

POLAR: CAME FROM THE COLD was one of those.

This graphic novel – originally a web comic – floored me. Writer and artist extraordinaire Victor Santos has created a tale so in tune with my tastes, it’s like he pulled ideas from my own head and executed them on a level I could only dream of.

This is an action-packed assassin versus assassin take coated in a thick layer of noir. Santos’s artwork is very reminiscent of Steranko and Miller, and coloured in blacks, whites and oranges, it’s just gorgeous on the page. Text is sparse in POLAR. There are no captions to clutter the artwork, and dialogue is kept to a minimum. It’s wonderfully effective. Our main character is an ex-agent named Black Kaiser, who is the intended victim of a failed assassination attempt. It seems his former employer wants him dead – but he’s not going to go easy. This plot, in a nutshell, sounds derivative, and to a point, I suppose it is. But this is all about the narrative’s execution, which is flawless, and stylish, and just so darn entertaining.

This is a bloody and violent tale. It’s not for everyone. But for me, this is comic book perfection. A must read.