April 13, 2012

Action Lab Reviews: Jack Hammer, Book One: Political Science

Jack Hammer, Book One: Political Science
Publisher: Action Lab
Written By: Brandon Barrows
Art By: Ionic

Action Lab’s latest book Jack Hammer, Book One: Political Science collects the four-issues of Barrows and Ionic’s strong-armed sleuth in a mystery filled with action and suspense.

The comic tells the story of Jack McGriskin, a private detective following a man who ends up dead. This dead guy is more than just any dead guy, and the investigation leads into deeper things, taking us from the streets of Boston and all the way into the Congress of the United States. Not only is there corrupt politics at play here, but it seems the murder was done by a super-human, bringing back memories to Jack of when he once was a superhero using his super strength. But what is making all these points from his life come together now?

Jack Hammer overall is a good collection. On the writing side the concept is a cool one: a former superhero turned detective, still fighting crime, but in a different way. The execution of the cool idea isn’t always as good as the idea itself, though. There’s constantly a careful balancing act in place to give us both a solid detective-crime story and a superhero tale at the same time. It never really goes “full superhero” until the end, which is a nice pay off, but it’s one of those things you wanted a little sooner (Perhaps in future Jack Hammer adventures?). The dialog is smart, and fans of crime comics will get some good fuel for their need from this one.

The art by Ionic is pretty good on this title, as well. Although a crime story, it never feels noir, but retains that superhero world look that its main character’s life once embodied. Yes, there are key things we expect of stories like this: dark alleys, offices, etc., but it’s not some Frank Miller wanna-be. Ionic gives this story a world all its own, and it’s a stronger title in terms of originality because of that. Some of the characters, like the villain who has a Guyver, Bio-Booster Armor-ish laser cannon in the middle of his chest, are pretty cool to look at.

Overall, Jack Hammer is good stuff, and with all four issues now bound together, it’s the perfect time to pick this series up if you haven’t read it yet.

Drew McCabe



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