Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics 2018
Story by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Written by Max Allan Collings
Illustrated by Marcelo Salaza & Marcio Freire
Lettered by Tom Williams
An all-new Mike Hammer story, developed from a never-before-seen 1950s screenplay by original creator Mickey Spillane, and written by Max Allan Collins. When a chance encounter with a captivating femme fatale leads to a violent mob retaliation, hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer finds himself dodging both bullets and broads as he undertakes the most dangerous case of his career.
I am so very impressed by everything I have read that’s come out of Hard Case Crime. I feel like a kid whose folks introduced him to these characters and the world of Pulp stories on cassette tapes while driving long distance. That this is allegedly (no reason to disbelieve but…) a never-before-seen screenplay from the 50’s that Max has been able to work into a comic book arc means that the essence of what makes Mike Hammer is in these pages and Max gets to play in Mickey’s sandbox for a bit. I doubt there are dream come true scenarios that come close to being lived out.
The way that this is structured is positively gorgeous. The opening or at least the first five pages are wordless it’s an action style sequence and I have to say that the artwork sells this beautifully. It made me want to see and know more and that’s what it’s job really is. I like that the end of the case from the opening is something we see already in progress and it’s ending is somewhat relevant to the main story here. I am also very appreciative of the way that the characterisation is being done, there is not a lot of pontificating over feelings here and Mike is a man’s man through and through. Well at least as a man used to be envisioned.
There is another thing about this story that I find absolutely within character for the time period and that’s all his troubles revolve around dames. From his clients to his secretary Mike Hammer and his infamous trench-coat not only gets into and of trouble thanks to these dangerously beautiful creatures but it seems that every damn time he steps out of the office there’s a price on his head and everyone’s gunning for him. This has all the old tropes going for it that will offend some and remind others of how things in the past used to be.
I love the interior artwork here. Not only does it have that whole vibe and feel of the old pulp classics but it has this incredibly painted feel to it. The way the colouring is shaded and the gradation on walls and well anything else is so well done that it really helps this cross the line from current to vintage and it really does sell the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a spectacular eye for storytelling. Every panel that showcases the work in the backgrounds really does wonders in expanding the story, the moment and the mood of what we see.
Just the fact that Hard Case Crime has decided to bring series like this to life fills me with joy. Not only are we exposing younger readers to the past but reminding older readers of their youth and what drove them to be reading and comics in particular. This is just another stellar reminder that novels, feature films, pulp publications are what created comics in the first place and how they important they remain for the future.