Hard Time #3 Review

Reviewed by: Mathan “McManus” Erhardt
Story Title: Harm’s Way

Written by: Steve Gerber
Penciled and Inked by: Brian Hurtt
Lettered by: Jared K Fletcher
Colored by: Brian Haberlin
Editor: Joan Hilty
Publisher: DC Focus/DC Comics

Ok so last issue teenage inmate Ethan ran afoul with the Aryan Swift. This caused him to find himself in an enclosed space with some members of the Brotherhood. Ethan ended up shaken but not stirred. When Ethan settled in for a nice sleep that night, a mysterious force left his body and brutally attacked Swift, leaving the Aryan a pulpy mess.

This issue begins with the warden, the doctor, and the captain CO discussing the mysterious beating that occurred last night. All are at a loss to explain how an inmate was brutally beaten in a locked cell. But the warden suspects that Ethan may have had a hand in it.

In the yard Ethan is getting “props” for what the other inmates assume was his role in the beating of Swift. The Turo, of the Latino gang, and Cole, from the Black group all show their admiration for the act. Cole even defends Ethan from two Aryans seeking vengeance.

Ethan then visits the pen shrink who questions his involvement in the beating. He then gives Ethan a work assignment designed to foster his talents with fixing things. At work Ethan meets his new boss, and has an encounter with the President of the Aryan Brotherhood Stephen Raeder, who shows Ethan an impressive display of power. Raeder also gives Ethan an ultimatum; find out who attacked Swift.

In an effort to get some answers Ethan talks to Cindy, the “shim.” Ethan then decides to take a shower. Unfortunately it’s while Lewis is taking a shower, and when the Blacks have decided to give Lewis the beating of his life. Y’see Lewis raped and beat to death a young Black girl, which pretty much makes him #1 on their hit list. Ethan tries to help Lewis (for some reason) and gets KO’d as a result. And that is when the force breaks up the fight for him. And thus ends his second day in prison.

I have really become a fan of Hurtt’s work. This is my introduction to it, and every month I am enjoying it more. The characters are portrayed as real people, which is a nice change in a comic book. The facial expressions are also nice. Lewis’ constant fear, Cindy’s hysterics, Curly’s surliness, and Ethan’s last expression is priceless. Hurtt is one of the reasons why I am really digging this book.

Gerber has really gotten my attention. I loved the HBO show Oz, so he had his work cut out for him. He has managed to make a book about prison accessible to a younger audience, yet remain true to the spirit of prison. He balances the accessibility and the depiction like a acrobat doing back flips on a high wire. I really like how the last two issues have encompassed one day apiece. I hope that this continues. I am really drawn into this book. I don’t even care about his powers or how they work, I want to know how he’s going to survive in prison.