Saturday, March 15, 2008

Review of _Hard Time: 50 to Life_

I found this book rather randomly at my local Half Price Books. It's billed as "A teen deals with newfound powers while behind bars." The super power element in this story is relatively serves to equalize things for the otherwise hopeless main character, a bit. But the protagonist has no control over his abilities, so it's small comfort.

It's a DC book but seems to have no particular relation to the rest of the DC universe. No one understands that the kid has a super power, so he's not being thrown into some Dr Seuss-themed power prison, and there's no one else with powers around.

The interest here is the injustice...the main character wrongly thrown into prison at an extremely tender age, cast off by society as if because the crime he was involved in was so horrible that someone had to pay. A school shooting is involved, and the book nicely shows up some of the contradictions: the disdain of the kids' schoolmates, who have no consciousness of how they have prompted the tragedy that occurs.

But the main character fights to survive despite all, and that's all you need. He finds allies in odd places, including a large black inmate who arrives at the prison at the same time as he does.

This volume collects issues 1-6 of the original series. Wikipedia tells me that there were 12 issues of the "season one" volume, and that was followed by 7 issues of season two before the book was cancelled. Issues 1-6 make a pretty good story by themselves.

PS: I just noticed that the author of this book is Steve Gerber, who created Howard the Duck and more importantly, the TV character Thundarr the Barbarian. Mr. Gerber had a lot of nice credits in his career, and it turns out he died very recently, February 10.

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