The Light and Dark of L.A. Noir: Return to the World of ‘Hit’ with ‘Hit 1957′ #1 [Review]
Hit: 1955 was one of the best crime comics of 2013, a whiskey-soaked LA noir about a detective on a police hit squad that took on the mob. In their follow-up, Hit: 1957, the team of Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey dive back into the darkness for more.
It took a little time for Hit to grow on me. There's a very fine line between original noir and a pastiche, and at first Hit: 1955 felt more like the latter. My initial impression was that it had just grabbed a few James Ellroy threads and knotted them up into a comic book, and that it was more about style than story. Thanks especially to the art of Vanesa Del Rey, I liked the style enough to give it time and keep reading, and I'm glad I did. Hit: 1955 got better with every issue, concluding as one of the darkest and most entertaining noir comics in recent memory.
As far as quality goes, Hit: 1957 picks up right where the first volume left off, though chronologically, it's two years later. Bonnie Brae is hiding out in San Clemente, while Detective Harvey Slater is running the LAPD hit squad he was once just a pawn in, and each is their own damaged version of content. When a new criminal element muscles its way into Slater's town, and the men she was on the run from find Bonnie, their paths seem likely to cross once again.
Like Criminal and Stray Bullets, there's a portability to Hit that makes it easy for new readers to come aboard. If you've read what's come before, you understand the history that's being referenced or the lies being told, but Carlson provides enough information in these pages to tell new readers everything they need to know; even something as subtle as the evolving mental state of a cop whose job it is to kill. All of these characters feel as if they're in transition, beginning the second acts of their lives with nothing but bad history behind them.
After winning the Russ Manning Award for Best Newcomer with Hit: 1955, Vanesa Del Rey has continued to grow as an artist, with more fluid layouts and a stronger sense of motion in Hit: 1957. Good LA noir has to be bright and dark at the same time, and with new colorist Niko Guardia, Del Rey renders this world in a look that is equal parts luscious and threatening.
A great-looking, well-written book, Hit: 1957 delivers.