“Hard Time” A Recommendation

“Hard Time” by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes was a short lived DC series first published under their DC Focus imprint. The goal of t63687-11051-96683-1-hard-timehe Focus imprint was to feature stories involving superpowers, but not the traditional superhero tale. Published from April 2004 to June 2006 in two volumes with a combined 19 issues, “Hard Time” was the longest running title of DC Focus.

“Hard Time” follows Ethan Harrow, a 15 year old student who took part in a school shooting prank gone wrong. Ethan and his best friend Brandon had planned to scare their classmates by faking a school shooting, but during the prank, Brandon reveals that the guns he had told Ethan were fake were actually real and begins killing students. Attempting to stop Brandon, Ethan kills him with some form of energy projection that everyone assumes was a weapon in Ethan’s possession. Without anyone to corroborate his claims of ignorance about Brandon’s plan, Ethan is tried as an adult and receives a sentence of 50 years to be carried out in a maximum security prison.

As the story progresses, Ethan meets a colorful cast of characters who will help him survive and learn “prison economics,” help him explore his strange new powers that he is desperately trying to keep secret, or threaten his life

“Hard time’s” strong point was the amazing contrast between the real and the fantastic, either of which were strong enough to carry the story on their own. We have the story of a 15 your old ki63693-11051-96689-1-hard-timed serving time in a maximum security prison, learning how to survive amongst hardened killers with very little hope that he’ll see outside world. And we also have the story of a young man testing fantastic new powers and desperately trying to keep anyone around him from learning of them.

“Hard Time” was a spectacular series from DC that never truly got the love it deserved and seems ripe with ideas that would make for a compelling TV adaption. Think of it as “OZ” meets “Powers.”

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Lawson Recommends: “Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines

Heres a quick review I ex-heroeswrote up mostly to find my blogging feet.

With the current obsession that modern pop culture has with zombies and caped heroics, it should surprise no one that superhero zombie fiction exists. Marvel comics themselves have capitalized on this with a very successful and surprisingly well written saga in the form of the various “Marvel Zombies” titles. With two pop culture elements on the verge of becoming stale (rotten in the case of zombies), it is very surprising to find a superhero/zombie apocalypse novel that is genuinely compelling and fresh.

“Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines as well as its 3 (so far) sequels follows a collection of original superheroes thrust together during a zombie apocalypse to protect a fortified community of survivors In Los Angeles.
I will admit that when I first heard the premise of “Ex-Heroes” I was skeptical. Until a close friend, whose hatred of zombie fiction was no secret, confessed their love for the book. That was enough for me to give it a try and pleasantly discover a very well written and thought out story.
A major strength of “Ex-Heroes” is that the superhero and zombie elements could exist independently of each other and still be compelling, if not a little on the formulaic side. The cast of super-empowered characters we encounter do fit into the tried and true archetypes any follower of the JLA or Avengers would recognize, and the story doesn’t really add anything new to the zombie apocalypse genre, but these are ultimately strengths in my opinion.
This is the superhero novel I would recommend to friends who weren’t particularly into superheroes. It’s also the zombie novel I would recommend to those not particularly into zombie fiction. It’s a fun ride, even if it takes a few familiar paths.

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