Breakneck from Titan Comics' Hard Case Crimes series. Duane Swierczynski (Writing), Simone Gugliemini & Raffaele Sameraro (Art), Lovern Kindzierski & Chris Chuckry (Colors), and ComicCraft's Jimmy Betancourt (Letters.)
"Holy s*#t!" was all I could exclaim (in my head) as I read Swierczynski's crime caper-meets-noir-meets-action/adventure story. Titan has forayed into the world of crime storytelling vis-a-vis its new line in partnership with Hard Case Crimes, the famed crime novel company. If Breakneck, a four part comic series, now available in trade paperback, is any indication of how good this partnership is and can be, then sign me up for every book on the roster. From fast-paced prose to comical dialogue, gritty yet colorful art, this book is a whirlwind; the speed at which the reader is taken through the roughly 120+ pages of story can cause whiplash (I made a break-neck joke there...) So, what's it about?
Joe Hayward is a small-time consultant in security. He's in what ostensibly seems like a happy marriage until he finds out his wife, Liz, may be having an affair. Not taking it lightly, he confronts the man he believes she's sleeping with, and from there all hell breaks loose. Turns out this guy isn't some Joe Schmoe, and he wasn't sleeping with Liz. Joe ends up on a tumultuous ride involving secret government agents, shootouts, French Connection-style car chases, and sex toys (?). It's one of the craziest and best stories I've read in a long time.
Swierczynski is an industry vet, having written some of the biggest characters in the comic book world. He's also a novelist, and his penchant for writing both mediums is absolutely apparent in this work. Each page reads like a hard-boiled crime novel, with witty narration and tongue-in-cheek observation. The dialogue is oftentimes fast-paced, and at the right moments comical. All in all, it makes for a fun ride. I didn't put the book down once, and breezed through its pages with ease.
The art, akin to Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser, creates the entire mood of the book: smoothly drawn contours, action-packed scenes, and great use of close-up and panned shots, almost like you're watching a movie. The colors match perfectly, gritty and never too dark, never too bright. All the pieces of the visuals in the book complement the story, adding to its both fast-paced and noir nature. Add fantastically stylized lettering, and you have the complete package.
For fans of crime stories, Breakneck is a must-read. For fans of stories chock full of action, it's a must read. Actually, it's just a must read. Period. Pick this book up or you'll regret it as much as Joe regrets confronting his wife's assumed gentleman caller.