Ethan Harrow, having been sentenced to a fifty-year jail term for his part in a Columbine-like massacre, is sent to jail. There, he slowly becomes acclimated to life in jail and encounters some frightening and weird people. At the end of the issue, after a confrontation with some Nazis, Harrow’s powers manifest themselves in a most surprising and strange way.
Steve Gerber’s amazing new series continues with a trip into a virtual hell on earth. Readers are systematically walked into the prison, step by agonizing step, and at each point the tension rises. By the time Ethan is actually in his cell, it’s hard to not feel an intense sense of foreboding about the story. It’s a strange, tense and scary world in the state penitentiary, and we see it through Ethan’s intense and confident eyes.
Brian Hurtt’s art is wonderful. It has to be a difficult assignment to have to draw so many human figures without superpowers, but his depiction of the prison and inmates bring the characters to life. Brian Haberlin’s muted color palette adds perfectly to the mood of the story.
I understand that Hard Time and the other DC Focus books aren’t doing too well for DC, but this really is a special comic: intelligent, intense and questioning. It’s not exactly a cheerful comic, but it is a real treat to read something as thoughtful as Hard Time.