HARD TIME: 50 to Life

Steve Gerber, Author, Brian Hurtt, Illustrator . DC Comics $9.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4012-0471-6

Ethan Harrow and Brandon Snodd, two picked-on high school kids, decide to scare their tormentors with a fake Columbine-like incident. When Brandon begins executing people for real, a kind of energy (invisible to the characters but visible to readers) shoots out of Ethan, killing Brandon. Though only 15, Ethan is tried for the murders as an adult and found guilty. He's taken to the state penitentiary, where he's friendless and out of his depth. In prison, Ethan meets Cole, a tough African-American con who explains the Hobbesian rules of prison life; Swift, an Aryan Brotherhood bruiser; and most important, Gantry, a religious fanatic who killed three people in an abortion clinic. As Ethan faces the vicissitudes of prison life, his power manifests itself frequently, gradually becoming visible and convincing Gantry that there is something unholy about Ethan. Gerber has constructed an intriguing setup that mixes prison drama with the supernatural. Unfortunately, the strong story line and setting are undercut by one-dimensional characters, including Ethan. Hurtt's art doesn't help; his stiff style lacks the nuance needed to invest the characters with personality. Haberlin's coloring stands out, however. His nearly monochrome settings help to establish moods that are otherwise lacking. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-1-4012-3794-3
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