Die Hard: Year One: Yippee Ki-Yay, Mother-!
Posted October 6, 2009on:
1976 was a hell of a year. Taxi Driver was released in theaters, Parliament released the Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, and John McClane joined the NYPD. But really we don’t know squat about what he did before Severus Snape totally ruined his Christmas. Fortunately, the folks who’ve decided to fill in the gap are BOOM! Studios, the heirs apparent to the “Good Licensed Property Comics” crown. I know, I know, it seems like I just keep singing their praises but, hey, shut up, they’ve earned it.
Die Hard: Year One by comic legend Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!, Bite Club) is the story of 21-year-old McClane after he returned from the hell that was Vietnam. But, man, it’s a Die Hard story, so you know that something is going to go horribly awry and poor John is totally gonna end up inadvertently stuck in the middle of it. I mean, he’s young, he’s idealistic, he’s completely sure of himself, and he’s in dirty-ass Manhattan on the bicentennial surrounded by the most corrupt police officers ever (well, besides the Gotham PD). I’m pretty sure that if McClane wasn’t Bruce Willis, he’d pretty much be screwed.
Speaking of Bruce Willis, artist Stephen Thompson (Star Trek: New Frontier) draws himself a pretty damn good likeness of a young Willis (without making you feel like you’re reading the Adventures of Bruce Willis [actually, I might read that]) and he does an awesome job bringing what Maggie has dubbed “movie New York City” to gritty, sweltering life in 2-D. Thompson has paid great attention to detail, DH: Y1 is something of a period piece (I hope that didn’t make anyone feel too old) and everything from the clothing to the haircuts to the cars to the car phone is rendered just right. (I mean, as far as we know.)
It’s pretty refreshing to see a prequel rather than a sequel from a licensed title. Die Hard: Year One manages to be appealing to those who haven’t seen the films, while making those who have seen them want to go and re-watch the original trilogy (and I guess Live Free or Die Hard if you’re a masochist).
I do have two complaints about the title, though. First, it lacks a lot of the sarcastic humor that was in the films. No biggie, but it’d be nice to see a bit more of the wisecracking that I’m used to seeing come out of McClane (unless he’s just not quite yet to the point where he’s that jaded). Second, there are about ten million characters introduced in this issue and the longest any one of them, including McClane himself, spends ‘on camera’ is three pages. I guess that Chaykin was going for the whole fast-paced cinematic action movie feel, but that doesn’t always translate to a comic book. Unless this is actually a limited series and he’s only got four issues or something, Chaykin could stand to slow things down juuust a tad and still be putting out a damn fine book.
Even with all the skipping around, Chaykin’s given us an intriguing set of dramatis personae; the millionaire, his bitter trophy wife and his crooked son, a creepy opportunist, two delightfully crooked cops, McClane’s useless jerkwad of a boss, the ingenue freshly arrived in the city from Indiana, McClane himself- all clearly connected, but we don’t yet know how it all fits together. No Zeus Carver yet, but it’s only issue one!
Anyhoo, if you’re a fan of the films (or cop dramas in general), you’ll dig Die Hard: Year One. It pairs quite well with a cold Haywire Hefeweizen. It’s got some graphic violence and strong language, but you’re reading a Die Hard book, so it’s not like you’re put off by a little swearing (“yippee ki-yay,” right?). Go pick up the first issue – BOOM! is doing an astounding job with their licensed titles, and Die Hard is no exception.