07th Dec2017

‘Quarry’s War #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Max Allan Collins | Art by Szymon Kudranski | Published by Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics


When the Hard Case Crime imprint arrived on the scene, it wasn’t a question of if, but when, they published something by Max Allan Collins. Collins is something of a star in several fields, but is probably best known for writing the graphic novel Road to Perdition, which later became  a pretty good film with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Me, I love him for his stint writing Batman, his comic book private eye, Ms Tree, and his work on Dick Tracy. He’s also written for TV shows like CSI, there’s no doubting the man loves his crime fiction. All that being said, I have never read the novels or seen the TV show Quarry on which this is based, so am going into this review blind. Let’s take a look.

The first few pages give us a little insight, all the while Quarry is staking out a potential target in 1972. A Vietnam vet, he is now essentially a hitman for someone called The Broker, and Quarry is his given codename. The narrative intercuts between 1969 and 1972, showing us how similar legal killing, as a soldier, is with illegal killing, as an assassin. The target, which is slightly better morally of course, is a Mob guy. Quarry works with a partner, a guy called Boyd who does all the research and planning side. While on stakeout opposite the marks house, they deliberate and discuss the best place to do the hit. The mundaneness of it all is quite shocking, like two mates having a chat. Collins certainly works to show there is no glamour in this life, no soul.

All the while the current hit is going on, we are intercutting with events from 1969, when Quarry and his then friend are being sent on something of a thankless and dangerous mission. Were there any other kinds in Vietnam? Quarry was a top Army sniper, which probably explains his later career choice. The good side of being a sniper is that you operated far back from the main action, taking out targets in a more impersonal way. The bad side is, the regular soldiers didn’t mix with you, and you tended to remember each individual kill. Again,  a situation that we notice continues as we cut back to 1972, and Quarry musing how to do the hit without endangering the man’s wife and kids. He draws the line though at the man’s dog, much to Boyd’s anger. Well, planned to. The hit goes down…

Coming into this with no knowledge of the character or his background, two dozen pages later I feel as though I have plenty of background on him. Intercutting his previous life and his current one is a very clever move story wise, as we get to see a lot of Quarry’s background and how it has made him who he is now. The first person narration also gave us a great insight into Quarry’s motivations, which at the moment seem to be sex and money. What comes over though is the coldness of Quarry, he goes through the motions in public but lacks the empathy that makes us human. I suspect as we learn more about Vietnam we will see why. I also look forward to learning more about The Broker. Great text piece about Quarry as well, by Max Allan Collins.

The art and colouring I thought were good, but not outstanding and perhaps even a little too bland. Very conventional layouts, and panels that lacked a little flow from page to page. In terms of individual panels however, excellent. Each panel by itself was drawn and coloured superbly, and I loved the muted colours of the Vietnam flashback sequences. The art did its main job well, which was to make the script and dialogue look good. Which it did.

A nice solid first issue, lots of world building and character development, and the promise of much more to come. I would need another issue or two to decide if Quarry’s War is a must read, but another Collins hit most definitely.

***½  3.5/5


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