Image Comics 2017
Written by Doug Wagner
Illustrated by Nic Rummel
Coloured by Charlie Kirchoff
Lettered by Frank Cvekovic
After five years in prison, AJ Gurney, a legendary wheelman in Detroit, has decided it’s time to go straight. He returns home to work in his father’s garage and disappear into anonymity. But during a visit to the bank, AJ is recognized by two violent bank robbers, and they demand AJ be their getaway driver. To ensure his compliance, they take a young female hostage; unfortunately, she happens to be the daughter of a Russian crime lord. AJ now finds himself pursued by a bitter police department and hunted by every asset of the Russian mob. Without a doubt, he’s in a very hard place.
I like this a lot more than I thought I would. I’ll say this right off the bat i’m not Nic’s biggest fan but the story is so damn engaging and AJ is a superb character to see on the page that I found myself overlooking the fact that i’m not a fan of this style of artwork.
Doug’s writing here is the best I personally seen from him and I’m a huge fan of the work he did with I.C.E.. From the moment we meet AJ it’s very clear that he is genuinely wanting to start a new life, free from the trappings of his old one and has learned his lesson and will atone for his sins. His interactions with people, friends and family really stress the point too that he’s a changed man. The fact that Doug can so thoroughly create, introduce and get the reader to not only get to know a man but to FEEL for him like this is something special.
Nic isn’t a bad artist so don’t get me wrong when I say i’m not a fan. There’s a lot of heavy black here, from the linework to pages itself and for me it has this incredible heavy feel to it that doesn’t gel with me. Though I will say his attention to detail is nicely done i’d like to see more work on the backgrounds because they add to the story. His use page layouts with their angles and perspective are nicely done, he has a good eye for storytelling. I will also say i’m impressed with the tattoo work we see on the characters that a nice subtle touch. Though c’mon her titty but not his ass please.
I like the structure of this book. The way the characters are introduced, how we see AJ’s past and what happened so that he’s where he is now is exceptionally well done. Seeing and meeting Maksim was actually as powerful as it could be and let us know pretty much everything we need to know about him moving forward. Also that this isn’t the only time we’ll be seeing him which is nice. Don, the cop, his best friend and his father flesh out AJ’s life nicely as well. Seriously the way we see who is important to his life and how he wants to be well it’s some of the strongest first issue writing i’ve seen.
The ending for this issue beautifully demonstrates not only Doug’s ability to weave a tale but how AJ’s not going to be able to escape his past. What we’ll see next issue will really determine how his life will go from here and I’m already fully invested in the story for the next four issues.
Masterfully written with heart and soul this is going to be one of the year’s best stories!