Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics 2021
Written by Charles Ardai
Illustrated by Ang Hor Kheng
Coloured by Asifur Rahman
Lettered by David Leach
The climactic final issue in Joanna Tan’s epic crime story!
When a gun smuggled into a high-security prison leads to the death of dozens and the escape of a brutal criminal, weapons smuggler Joanna Tan is enlisted by the U.S. government to find the man she set loose and bring him down!
Well they weren’t kidding when they said the climactic conclusion because this took me for a bit of spin. We see Joanna’s father, naked (which I was sad we didn’t see how badly that was burned), and the two have a nice little chat about how he’s still alive and what happened that night. This is the kind of stuff that we only dream about because honestly I couldn’t have thought this up on my own and it’s damn good stuff. What Charles does with the twists & turns, not to mention the revelations within this story, keep the reader on their toes and take the raeder on one of those unexpected journeys. We don’t learn the truth till the end and when we do the surprise is one that shouldn’t have been as shocking as it was but then again if we don’t see it coming then it’s done the right way now isn’t it?
I am absolutely thrilled with the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information are presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the narration, the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how we see them act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter does a magnificent job spotlighting their ever changing and evolving personalities. The pacing is excellent and as it takes us through the pages revealing more of the story the more we are drawn into this on a more personal level.
I am very much enjoying how we see this being structured as well as how the layers within the story continue to emerge, grow, evolve and strengthen. I am also liking the way we see these layers opening up new avenues to be explored. With this being the last issue and some avenues being integral to the overall bigger picture the way they add such depth, dimension and complexity to the story is impressive. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward are impeccably handled.
The interiors here are amazing. My one complaint is that we see Joanna naked often enough but never any of the men and being almost 2022 it’s high time that changed and the stigma of a naked man should be gone. The linework is fantastic and how we see the varying weights and techniques being utilised to create the detail within the work that we see is rendered exceptionally well. We see a fair bit of backgrounds being utilised and they not only enhance and expand the moments but work well within the composition of the panels to bring out the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a remarkably talented eye for storytelling. The various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work show a true understanding of how colour works.
What a wonderfully pulpy, witty and dynamic story this is. The writing is sensational and the characterisation is top notch while the interiors bring this all to life with such aplomb. It is so nice to see women getting their due here since they can be just as cunning, deadly and bad-arse as any man can be. Now if they’d do a female impersonator using her travelling show to as a front for being an assassin I’d be over the moon!