Hard Time #12 Review

Reviewer: Mathan “R.I.P. Bloodhound” Erhardt
Story Title: Sixteen

Written by: Steve Gerber
Penciled by: Brian Hurtt
Inked by: Steve Bird
Colored by: Wildstorm
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Joan Hilty
Publisher: DC Focus/DC Comics

Ethan is in prison for a Columbine-esque attack on his school. While in prison he meets up with some colorful folks. Turo is an up and comer in the Latino gang behind bars, with a pregnant girlfriend outside. Cole is a Black inmate who finds himself sharing a cell with Cindy a “s/him.” Ethan is attracted to his cellmate’s, Curly, granddaughter Red. Oh yeah, Fruitcake Mullins is trying to help Ethan harness the inner energy being he possesses. That about covers it.

The issue begins with Mullins explaining his theory on how Ethan came to possess his abilities. It involves ancient civilizations and alien contact. Ethan is skeptical, but Mullins urges him to learn to shape his ability. Later Ethan meets with is lawyer, who informs him that he won’t be marrying Ethan’s mother and that a prison rights group is interested in Ethan’s case.

Meanwhile, at Shady Grove, a mental hospital, Alyssa, a girl who survived Ethan’s attack on his school is plagued by nightmarish hallucinations. Mrs. Teabury, a fellow resident, gives Alyssa a key to the roof, so that she might escape her torment.

Back at in prison Turo gets reprimanded by the leader of his gang for his attack on the Aryans last issue. But his leader also grants he request to be married to his pregnant girlfriend before the baby is born. Ethan and Curly check their email, and Curly warns Ethan about getting involved with Red.

Alyssa find her peace on the roof, and Ethan concentrates on giving his energy form. Mullins warns Ethan that someone close to him will die and implies that it’s Alyssa. That night, Alyssa believes that she’s found salvation and steps off of the roof; fortunately Ethan’s energy arrives to save her.

The next day is visitation day. Turo is about to be married and Red arrives to give Ethan a birthday gift. Before Turo can be married, his girlfriend Mercedes collapses. As she’s rushed out the doctor mentions that he can’t find a pulse.

Ethan goes back to his cell and Curly puts things in perspective for him; it’s Ethan’s 16th birthday, and he can’t even celebrate by getting is driver’s license or driving a car. The End.

Ethan’s birthday was a decent place to end a “season.” Gerber manages to wrap up some subplots, yet leave readers wanting more. We finally get an idea about where Ethan’s power comes from, and he finally hooks up with Red. But is Mercedes alive and does Alyssa know that Ethan saved her? Hopefully we won’t wait too long for those answers.

Hurtt deserves to be commended for his work on this title. In this day and age 12 consecutive issues is a milestone. His depiction of the rapid evolution of the Yu’ushans was very well done, as was the glimpse at their civilization. I really enjoyed the use of shadow on the last panel of page 7. It’s a great image. And the last page really does put everything in perspective. Bird’s inks are perfect, as they don’t overpower Hurtt’s pencils.

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