The Hard Place is about an ex con by the name of Gurney, and his attempt to reenter society after his latest stint in prison. Five long years of time, and as one of the guards mentions, it is almost like he wanted to stay inside. That’s because some jobs don’t stop following you just because you were locked up.
Image Comics took to the stands with the team of writer Doug Wagner and the tag team of artists Charlie Kirchoff and Nic Rummel, working together on a project that combines the best part of rehabilitation with being stuck in a life you are trying to escape. The hard place is a brutal look at the people who want to keep pushing you towards the wrong choices. They leave you between a rock and… Ah, got it now!
So Gurney gets out of prison and wants to do nothing but fix cars and drink beers with his old man, but he is not naive enough to think he can get away with not talking to the man whose job he mucked up. The main protagonist goes by the name Maksim, who is a beast of a crime boss. The kind of man you do not disrespect, or else your whole family will probably pay for the mistake. That is unless someone pays the debt for you, as seems to have happened since Gurney was in jail. A bit of a twist for him as well, as he has no idea what caused someone to stick their neck out for him. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t even know WHO it was that took over his debt to Maksim.
The story doesn’t touch much on it, but what it does touch on is Gurney’s attempt to reintegrate into society without falling back into the same traps as before. He manages to help his dad, and wants to start working in his father’s garage, to help him recover from his medical issues of late. Siphoning money, and not being able to afford new tools, the business is going straight downhill. While Gurney tries to do everything to bring them back from financial ruin, will his options force him back into the life he is attempting to leave.
The writing and artwork combined into a comic form for this type of story actually worked very well. The art isn’t perfect, but it shouldn’t be when you’re telling the story of a dirty man becoming clean. The story, while a bit overused, doesn’t feel like it is a redone one. It feels fresh, and makes me want to keep following along. I almost compare it to the movie Snitch, but with a deeper connection to the characters.
RECOMMENDATION – Action fans, fans of stories in which our “hero” is trying to stave off the path that brought him against the law, and anything with a catchy plot. Either way, it is a good read.
Let the boys at the store know if you want to add this Image Comics title to your file!