Taking its name to heart, “Hit” #1 proves to be a wonderfully surprising read with a compelling plot and complex characters, courtesy of Bryce Carlson in the writer’s chair and Vanesa R. Del Rey on art. Set in a less complex time with no internet, no gossip TV and things simply getting done, this comic book focuses on the extracurricular activities of Los Angeles Police Department Detective Harvey Slater and his tightly-knit band of confidantes.
Sporting an Art Deco influence in fonts, color and composition, “Hit” #1 provides a nice showcase of the talents and abilities of colorist Archie Van Buren, letterer Ed Dukeshire and especially artist Vanesa R. Del Rey. Powerfully detailed and wonderfully framed, Del Rey’s artwork is clean and crisp, unblemished by extraneous lines or shading. This book would be beautiful in black and white, but the colors do such a nice job enhancing what is here. The end result is a comic book that wants to be a movie when it grows up, but for now will simply be the best looking comic book it can be. The package is pulled together nicely by designer Hannah Nance Partlow. It’s unclear exactly what Partlow’s role in this book is, but I can only presume the weathered appearance and atmospheric advertisements that round out “Hit” #1 can be at least partially attributed in her direction.
“Hit” #1 strikes all the highnotes full on. The story is compelling, the flawed, gruff human at the center of the action is compelling to read and the plot itself feels fresh and new despite the sixty-year-old setting. This era is romanticized by writer Bryce Carlson, despite its brutality. The writer eloquently demonstrates that through the use of pistols, meat hooks, cigarette burns; backroom deals with crooked cops who have a slanted view of justice and dimly lit joints where the real deals go down. This is a fine bit of noir and it makes me itch for more.
The issue seals the deal with imagery of inky blinds straining to hold back the bursting rays of sunshine in Captain Blair’s office. That single visual is all this comic needs to earn its stripes and really sell the simpler time, defined by secret handshakes and untraced phone calls. Slater is an interesting, flawed, human character caught in the middle of one plot as another is falling apart around him. “Hit” #1 is a strong read that needs to find some more eyeballs to dazzle. Do yourself a favor; take a break from empty, unrewarding events and their disappointing tie-ins and soak in some noir action.