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Comic Review: Jack Hammer #1
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Action Lab Comics: Jack Hammer #1 cover by IonicJack Hammer #1
Written by Brandon Barrows
Illustrated by Ionic
Action Lab Comics
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Cover Price: $2.99

Who better to solve a murder case in a world littered with super-powered individuals than a former hero? Written by Brandon Barrows and illustrated by Ionic, Jack Hammer #1 from Action Lab Comics offers a new, gritty take on the superhero genre. Find out my thoughts on the first installment below.

When a wealthy sophisticate from Boston named Eddie Newman goes missing, private investigator — and one time superhero — Jack McGriskin is hired to find him. When Mcgriskin enters a crime scene investigation and discovers that the murder victim is none other than Newman himself — donning the raggedy clothes of a homeless man — McGriskin seeks to find out what happened to the him. His journey takes him deep into the underbelly of Boston, making backroom deals with crooked thugs and business owners in order to get the information he needs. What McGriskin doesn’t realize, however, is that the very people who hired him in the first place, Technotrends Corporation, might not want McGriskin to uncover the truth. And a powerful company like Technotrends will do whatever is necessary to prevent him from moving forward.

First of all, Barrows starts Jack Hammer off with an exchange between two citizens of Boston that is written in a perfect Boston dialect which forced me to read the rest of the comic with the thick accent — it was great! The initial story is off to a good start and certainly has a lot of potential. I like how eager and persistent the main protagonist, Jack McGriskin is and that he never lets a job go unfinished. There has to be a reason for this. We are given a short glimpse into his past as the hero, Jack Hammer, but I’d really like to see more. I want to know why he went from being a superhero to a private investigator and what personal changes and effects were made along the way. I also enjoy the mystery behind who we assume to be the villains of the story. Barrows pulled me in with the opening dialogue and kept me entertained and wanting more.

Ionic’s art is shrouded in dark tones of multiple colors, truly bringing the gritty, raw feeling of the book to life. The panels are well laid out with certain shots pertaining excellent perspective. The interpretation of McGriskin, from his long, beige trench coat, to the fedora covering his eyes throughout most of the comic, and finally his scraggly facial hair, it is evident that McGriskin is a P.I. with a story to tell.

I’ve read a few Action Lab comics thus far and they’ve been hit or miss, really. Jack Hammer, however, is more than a hit. In only the first issue the creative team has done what many mainstream comic creators fail to do in an entire story-arc: providing an excellent story matched with stylistic illustrations that together offer a reason to hope for a powerful series.

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