Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, February 12, 2006
      ( 2/12/2006 01:52:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"EVEN WASTEROID DUMPS GET HYPHENED!" – The first comparison you'll see made to Giffen & Grant's Jeremiah Harm (Boom! Studios) is to their ultra-violent space bounty hunter Lobo, but I also see similarities to Grant's work on the comic book adventures of Star Wars' Boba Fett, a much more laconic, but equally bad-ass, space hunter. As with Giffen's work on Hero Squared, the immediate impression one gets of a work that had its genesis in the plot outline for a big money company comics property (in the case of Hero, the Justice League) but morphed into something a bit more free-wheeling along the way. Not a bad practice if the end results are as delightful as Hero, though since the first issue of Harm is primarily devoted to set-up, it's a bit too soon to make any broad judgments on this 'un. I will note that the series' opening volley makes an entertaining read: futuristically grungey with a gleefully mordant callousness that both writers have long made a part of their writing arsenals. (Grant is, as usual, adept at crafting a believably futuristic hard-boiled patois.) Could be fun if the writers can pull out a few good surprises in the issues to come.

The series opens with a jailbreak from a maximum security satellite by a trio of psychotic aliens so single-minded in their desire to escape that one of them painfully removes a neural bond parasite from her body ("That would be like removing your entire nervous system . . .by hand!" the satellite's warden states) while in solitary confinement. Concerned about the political ramifications of this escape, the weasely warden arranges for another prisoner, earthman Jeremiah Harm, to be released to track down the trio. Harm has a history with Dak Noira, the threesome's ringleader – his capture of the genocidal alien led to Jeremiah being framed as an accomplice – and the warden guarantees immunity for our hero if he retrieves the threesome. The sleazy bureacrat's lying, but we're sure Harm already knows this.

So our title hero is, in other words, a comic book Snake Plissken (though, come to think of it, doesn't he have his own comic now?) – and that's it for the pop culture comparisons, I promise – right down to the surly look and stubby cheroot in his mouth. (In a nice touch, Harm is shown lighting his cigar with his thumbnail.) At this point all we know about the character is he's a hard-ass who'd "just as soon not bust up a broad" but is plenty brutal when it comes to beating the truth out of a double-dealing underworlder. The fact that our murderous trio its making its way to his old stomping grounds hints we'll more 'n' likely learn more about Jeremiah, The Man/The Cigar Chomper, along the way.

Rael Lyra's art has a suitably tarnished look, though as I've noted in the past, I could do without the infusion of murky green coloration into so much of the proceedings – makes me think too much of our old color television on its last legs. While I understand the wish to look visually oppressive on a series like this, too much swamp tones can get monotonous, particularly when yer prime alien baddies are all reptilian creatures. Perhaps things'll lighten up a few watts when our hero arrives on that familiar backwater planet where his quarry is a-plottin'? We shall see . . .

A Quick Snipe At A Small Editing Flub: Looks to me as if someone misdirected the word balloons at the top of page eleven – not a fatal flaw, but it did give me pause when I was re-reading the book . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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