When Titan Comics first started their Hard Case Crime imprint, I was not a fan. Mainly because that first series brought up a lot of issues and dealt with them poorly even as the action was done well. SInce then, the quality of the books has gotten better. And that bring us to their newest release: Quarry’s War.
Quarry’s War interweaves two stories about “Quarry”, a man whose real name we never learn. The first story is set in 1972 where Quarry is a hitman hired to take out a mob boss who is living in a quiet Middle American suburban town. The second takes place three years earlier, when he is a Marine sniper sent to take out a nest of North Vietnamese who have been harassing American troops in the area. Although, initially both missions appear to go well there are enough things that are off that it starts putting Quarry’s nerves on edge.
Max Allan Collins is no stranger to either writing mysteries or comics. His Road to Perdition is rightly considered a classic of both forms. His Quarry character stars in a number of crime novels. This comic is a new entry in that series.
It makes sense that this comic gets that gritty feel of those 1960s and 70s crime adventure novels that a friend introduced me to in college, when my brain needed a break from the mysteries of microeconomics, as that is when the first books were written. (Thanks, Tim.) In an essay at the end of the issue, Quarry acknowledges that he based these books off of Donald Westlake’s Parker series and he gets it just right.
Szymon Kudransky (Spawn, Black-Eyed Kids, Black Panther) and Guy Major’s (Action Comics, Robin, Green Arrow) work on the book nails both settings perfectly. They give even the quiet suburbs that 1970’s feel of a clock whose workings are beginning to run down. The fantastic ink and color work also manages to give a completely separate look and feel to the Vietnam scenes, but one that works with the American ones and really binds the two stories together.
There are plenty of comics I buy and end up on my “I’ll get to you” pile. This is not one of them. It is deceptively simple in some places, but it is clear that this is only setting things up for a more complex follow through. Quarry may not realize that he’s knee deep in trouble with this hit, but we do. All through subtle clues strewn throughout the issue. This is how a master storyteller begins a tale.
Writer: Max Allan Collins
Artist: Szymon Kudransky
Colorist: Guy Majors
Publisher: Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics