23rd May2019

‘Breakneck’ Graphic Novel Review

by Chris Cummings

Written by Duane Swierczynski | Art by Simone Guglielmini, Raffaele Semeraro | Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime

Breakneck-collection-cover

Titan Comics’ imprint, Hard Case Crime, comes out with this collection of the Breakneck series, written by Duane Swierczynski, a man certainly familiar with the crime comic genre. He’s worked on Marvel books in the past, such as Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War and some of the IDW Judge Dredd books. His writing is gritty and on-point and the experience he’s cultivated over the years is felt strongly in Breakneck.

Artists Simone Guglielmini, whose prior work includes Near Death and Bubbles O’Seven, and Raffaele Semeraro, who worked on The Dragonfly from KID Comics, do a good job too, the visuals are mottled and grungy yet with the right amount of vibrancy that makes things pop at the right times. The colour work, from Lovern Kindzierski and Chris Chuckry is very nice too. It might not be the most mind-blowing of visual treats, and it might not do anything to take you by surprise when it comes to the artwork, but I still liked it, and felt like it worked harmoniously with the words.

I was immediately drawn in by the look of Breakneck, but stayed for the terrific story.

The story? Well, it follows Joe Hayward, a normal run-of-the mill bloke who winds up in the centre of terrorist plans to destroy Philedelphia and realises that he needs the help of an agent who, unfortunately for Joe, is sleeping with his wife. It’s an urgent action-packed pulp crime caper and I had a good time with it. It isn’t without it’s problems, though, with some of the jokes falling flat and the occasions where you wonder if all the details and information being thrown at you is actually entirely all necessary.

Joe is a character that has his grey areas, and I like that in my lead-characters generally. He is written well, and I thought, aside from a few gag-fails, he’s an interesting fellow. There is some venom here, too… with the way Swierczynski has penned Hayward, it feels like punishment to some degree, a main-character that the narrative really doesn’t like. I found some humour in that, but it was a touch confusing too in the sense that I haven’t quite experienced that in comic books before. The friction between Joe and the guy he wants to murder for sleeping with his wife, Scott, is palpable and I really liked that element while reading Breakneck. This relationship, and the guttural discontent between the two, was a blast.

I also have to mention the peculiar and downright bizarre nature that the comic treads at times. This might not be for everyone, but as a fan of obscure and bizarro things, I got a real kick out of some of the roads Breakneck decided to go ahead and drive down. I’d recommend this book to fans of pulp crime, noir and even gritty motion-picture style comic books. It has humour, violence and visually ticks the boxes, and though there are some odd things about the story at times, I really did enjoy the writing and how the story unfolded. I will have my eyes on the Hard Case Crime imprint from Titan Comics now, after digging this release.

Breakneck is released by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime on June 25th.

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