Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey follow up their “Hit: 1955” miniseries with “Hit: 1957” #1, an equally noir-like crime drama focusing on corruption and intrigue within the Los Angeles Police Department during (when else?) the 1950s. Detective Harvey Slater and his colleagues are still playing dirty as they shake down the L.A. underworld and he still has a thing for Bonnie Blair, the femme fatale and daughter of his corrupt boss who isn’t quite elusive enough to get away from an influential crime lord. It’s a natural extension of the first series and has the same kind of pulpy feel that make Carlson and Del Rey’s story a worthwhile addition to a crowded genre.
Carlson’s story has a perfectly coordinated level of complexity that welcomes new readers as well as existing ones by introducing the characters and plot threads at a brisk but approachable pace. The series starts off with Bonnie in trouble and, while she isn’t immediately known to those unfamiliar with the first series, Carlson makes her context clear enough as it progresses. He also makes Harvey’s shady nature and abuse of power known in short order by establishing the dynamic between him and his fellow crooked cops, Officer Carl Heywood and Detective Joe “Sticky” Stickelman. Heywood revels in his role, while Carlson gives Sticky more of a conscience despite his unscrupulous ways.
While Carlson’s characterization and overall plot are solid, his story drifts elsewhere. The plots twists are a little too convenient, and the omniscient narrative — while informative — is piled on pretty thick. Ironically, though, the excessive captions likely won’t bother those who followed the last series, and, while wordy, they do help new readers keep the players straight. Carlson’s narrations go a long way towards giving the issue its flavor but take it just too far, like adding a little too much spice to an already fine tasting bowl of chili.
Del Rey and colorist Niko Guardia add their own seasoning in a much more subtle manner. Most of the scenes are appropriately dark and moody, and Del Rey accentuates this with a shadowy, indistinct look on a lot of the backgrounds and forms. Conversely, but equally appropriately, the coastline sunset scene featuring Bonnie is much crisper and more defined. In both cases, Guardia plays along with fitting colors and brighter tones only where necessary, like in a back alley or a crime boss’ imposing dining room, but he uses them to more beautiful effect during this walk along a pier.
“Hit: 1957” #1 doesn’t do a lot to stand out from other recent comics in the crime genre, but it’s a good start to a new series and a worthy sequel to the previous one.