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Bryce Carlson Knuckles-Up for Mobster Mayhem in “Hit: 1957”

by  in Comic News Comment
Bryce Carlson Knuckles-Up for Mobster Mayhem in “Hit: 1957”

EDIT Feb. 13, 8:34 AM: “Hit: 1957” #1 has been rescheduled to arrive in stores March 25.

Detective Harvey Slater is back for more mobster-killing fun when BOOM! Studios unleashes Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey‘s “Hit: 1957.” The lead character of 2013’s “Hit” series is two years older in the March-debuting miniseries, but whether he’s wiser or simply more jaded remains to be seen.

In Carlson and Del Rey’s first series, our hero was betrayed by his boss and father figure Captain Blair, and ditched by Bonnie. Whether these transgressions continue to plague the hard-as-nails Slater or not will be revealed as the new series unfolds, but Carlson’s noir hero and killer cop seems to be faring well enough, putting a dent in crime thanks to his partners Detective Joe “Sticky” Stickelman and Officer Carl Haywood. It also helps that real-life gangster Mickey Cohen has been surprisingly quiet since getting out of jail. Still, there are a few looming problems like the mysterious villain Domino and Slater’s estranged lady Bonnie.

CBR News spoke with Carlson about balancing the historical with the fictional, his evolving collaboration with Del Rey and how Slater operates after being so thoroughly betrayed at the end of the first volume

CBR News: “1955” ended with Slater finding himself betrayed by two pretty important people in his life. Has he allowed that to change him in “1957”?

Bryce Carlson: Not really. As we’ll continue to learn, Slater has a long, historical relationship with betrayal. It’s a pattern, really. The story of “Hit” in the ’50s is very much an allegory for divorce — both in Slater’s life and my own — and betrayal is a key component of that. Fortunately, I’m not like Slater and don’t have recurring issues with betrayal. That I know of…

At the end of the previous volume, we also saw Slater’s team shift. Is he still with the same group, two years later?

The hit squad lives. Slater’s still running around the streets with Detective Joe “Sticky” Stickelman and Officer Carl Haywood, causing all kinds of trouble. The only difference is, now Slater has fully assumed leadership of the crew, becoming more and more like Captain Arthur Blair, the man who ultimately betrayed him in “1955.”

With Slater becoming more like Captain Blair, is there any fear that he might go bad like his one-time boss?

That’s a huge fear and a very real possibility. It all plays into this idea of divorce and how Slater is always in jeopardy of repeating his family’s mistakes, whether it’s becoming like his real father, or falling into the same trappings as Blair, who was his father figure. I won’t spoil anything, but when you read “1957,” it’s scary how much Slater and Blair line up. How that ends up, you’ll have to read to find out.

How would you describe the relationship between Slater and his prey, Domino?

Elusive? Yeah, that’s probably the best word for it. Slater’s been hunting Domino for two years and hasn’t been able to get his hands on him, not so much as a sighting. It’s a frustrating game of cat and mouse where the mouse never comes out of its damn hole.

A huge part of the first story was the dynamic between Slater and his on-again, off-again relationship with Bonnie. Can you give us any updates on where they stand?

I can, but you’re probably not going to like it. In the events of the short story “Bonnie,” which takes place directly after “1955,” our femme fatale winds up in San Clemente on her way to Mexico. She’s been there for two years, under a false name of course, living life in the sun and enjoying herself for the first time in a long time. Slater has no idea where Bonnie is. That’s where their relationship is at the beginning of “1957,” if you can even call that a relationship.

The world of “Hit” has roots in reality, with the police-sanctioned hit squads. How do you balance reality with the version you’re creating for these stories?

Like a methodical mad man. “Hit” is historical fiction, but more fiction than historical. I work hard to make sure that the era, setting, events of the world and all of that are in line and accurate. And then, I just throw a load of fictional crap on top. Harvey Slater isn’t based on a real person, but Baldwin Hills is a place where bodies used to get dumped. An LAPD captain was never working with the New York mafia to take over the city while Mickey Cohen was in prison — that I’m aware of — but there was a struggle for power in the streets at the time. The top coat of “Hit” is historically accurate, but the guts are fictional as hell.

You’re working with Vanesa Del Rey again on this book. Has your artistic relationship changed after the first volume?

Vanesa is a super beast from another dimension, sent here to blow people’s minds while they bleed through their eyeholes. She’s my partner in crime, and I can’t tell you how much I love working with her. There was a lot of trust before, but there’s even more now, which I think is very exciting for both of us. Vanesa has the freedom to really do whatever she wants on the page, and I get to work off of that. It’s the same process we used when we did “1955” — it’s just more pronounced now, a real visual storytelling jam session. The short answer is, our artistic relationship is better than ever.

Did your discovery of Vanesa’s strengths while working on “1955” influence the writing of “Hit: 1957?”

Absolutely. Knowing everything she’s capable of has opened the door to different storytelling approaches and lit a fire under me to write things that hopefully help accentuate Vanesa’s vast talent while challenging us both to continue progressing as creators. I honestly feel that Vanesa has helped make me a better writer, and now I’m hoping that in turn I can give her opportunities to stretch her muscles and embolden her to do new and exciting things as an artistic voice.

Do you see yourself returning to the world of “Hit” in the future?

That’s the dream, but right now I’m just focused on making “1957” the best damn series possible. If it succeeds and there’s an opportunity to tell more stories in this world, that’s awesome and I definitely have no shortage of ideas. But if this is where “Hit” ends, I’ll be just as happy. I wrote the first series like I would never get another shot and I’m doing the same thing with “1957.” As is, it’s a complete story with a satisfying ending but there’s definitely room to push forward. I mean, after all, the 1960s are just around the corner.

“Hit: 1957” #1 from Bryce Carlson, Vanesa R. Del Rey and BOOM! Studios starts busting heads on March 25.

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