Review by C.J. Bunce

A smartly constructed assemblage of events and characters collided in a tightly written crime story in Edgar-winning writer Duane Swierczynski′s mini-series, Breakneck One of the most exciting of Hard Case Crime and Titan Comics′ line of books and comics based in a modern setting, Breakneck is a spy tale, terrorist story, and diehard action thriller about an unassuming Everyman who gets mixed up with a federal agent trying to foil a terrorist bombing in historic downtown Philadelphia.  The four-issue series from this past winter is getting released in a trade paperback this month, and is available for pre-order now here at Amazon (the UK edition is in bookstores now).  Fans of the crime genre and quick action graphic novel reads will find this story worth checking out.

If an incapacitated federal agent needed your help to save the world in the next 93 minutes, could you drop everything and do anything imaginable to help, even if that agent is someone you hated so much you were planning his death?  Swierczynski doesn’t give you any time to answer that question, as he sweeps the protagonist into a seedy motel, with guns pointing in every direction, guys being thrown from windows, and a woman tied up asking for help.  Before you have time to ask how all these characters keep crashing back together, another woman is tapped to join in the race to stop the end of the city from happening.

  

Artists Simone Guglielmini and Raffaele Semeraro, and colorists Lovern Kindzierski and Chris Chuckry nicely choreographed 109 pages of action with the streets of Philadelphia as a backdrop.  Breakneck began as a novel for Swierczynski, which then turned into a screenplay, and finally landed as a comic book story.  An excerpt of the novel is included as an appendix in the new graphic novel format compilation.

Swierczynski acknowledges in a foreword to the story–and I’d agree–that the comic book format may be where the book belongs.  Or to flip it around, Breakneck makes the best use of the comic book medium to tell a ticking clock story that doesn’t have much room for many characters or environments.  Here that’s a home, a hotel, a couple of cars, a commuter train, and historic downtown Philadelphia.  The interplay of ideas works in a way that a novel could only slow down.  Likewise, the story on paper looks too much like James Cameron’s True Lies to likely get made by a Hollywood studio (although one could see this as a story Jason Statham could do in his sleep, and Swierczynski has previously mentioned Simon Pegg for the lead role).

The new compilation edition also includes reprints of the various variant covers from the four-issue series, from the interior artists and Fay Dalton, Will Conrad, Marcio Freire, Steve Scott, and Alex Ronald.

Here is an excerpt, courtesy of Titan Comics:

Recommended for adult audiences for violence and themes, Duane Swierczynski’s Breakneck is available for pre-order now here at Amazon.  It is scheduled for release in the U.S. on June 25, 2019.

 

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