Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 103: <i>Hard Time</i> (volume 1) #12

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This pseudo-week: Steve Gerber. Today's page is from Hard Time (volume 1) #12, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 2005. Enjoy!

Technically, the first page of almost every issue of Hard Time is a recap page, but I hope you'll forgive me if I skip those. Hard Time, for those who didn't read my post about it, is Gerber and Brian Hurtt's strange comic about a teenager who inexplicably gets sentenced to 50 years in prison for a crime in which his guilt was circumstantial at best. He has some kind of "spirit-force" inside him that allows his consciousness to wander the world (plus do other things), and this issue, the final issue in the first "season" of the book (it was relaunched with a new #1 that lasted only seven issues), gets into what the "Khe-Chara" is, and that's what this first page is all about.

Gerber gives us a fairly standard "alien intervention" origin for the Khe-Chara - three beings land in Mesopotamia in 6000 BC and offer them a gift of knowledge, which leads to a Golden Age. Gerber gets the dates completely wrong - Mesopotamia already supported agriculture and had domesticated animals for almost two thousand years by 6000 BC, so the people would not have been as "unsophisticated" as he claims here - but whatever (they were brewing beer in the region around this time - how unsophisticated could they be?). The point is that the aliens gave the stupid humans knowledge, and the group's neighbors didn't like it.

The heavy lifting on this page is done by Hurtt and the colorist, vaguely referred to as "Wildstorm," which I assume means Wildstorm FX, who colored a lot of books for DC during this time period. Hurtt makes the Nibroni nice and vague, even though they're humanoid, and you'll note how in the first three panels, he keeps them on the left side, drawing our eye from them to the poor human schmucks that they're helping. In the fourth panel, they still dominate the scene, but Hurtt places them directly underneath the third panel, keeping the continuity of the scene. The final panel is interesting because of the placement of the envious neighbors - Hurtt would repeat their placement on the next page, after the "Yu'usha" have become prosperous thanks to the Nibronis' intervention. The coloring is very nice, too - blue and yellow, of course, being part of the foundations of comics coloring, but also showing the dichotomy between the magnificent Nibroni and the schlubs living in their own shit. It doesn't appear that the Yu'usha have even discovered fire yet, so they're blue because they're lit by the glorious spaceship hovering above them. It's a wonderfully colored page, and it sets up the second page, where the blue is replaced by earth tones of the Golden Age of the Yu'usha. Put together, the two pages push against each other very nicely. Even without it, this is a well done page.

Gerber never got to finish Hard Time the way it deserved, but it's still a cool comic book. I recommend tracking it down, even though I think this first page does a pretty good job making it intriguing! Despite the clichés, it's a nice page.

Next: The other writer who received the most votes! I have a lot more of his comics, so I'll have a wider selection. Dang, that kind of makes it harder. I won't waste time checking out the archives, but that doesn't mean you can't!

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