Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review: HASS #1


WRITER/CREATOR: Bart A. Thompson – @ApproBAT
ARTIST: Federico Santagati
COLORS: Russell Vincent Yu
LETTERS: Bart A. Thompson
EDITOR: John P. Ward
32pp, Color, $9.99 U.S. (2013)

Debuting last year, Hass is the latest comic book series from prolific comic book creator, writer, and publisher, Bart A. Thompson.  Published through Approbation Comics, Hass has earned two 2014 Glyph Comics Award nominations (“Best Cover” and “Best Writer”).  I think Hass also deserved a 2014 Eisner Award nomination, at least for best new series, which did not happen.

Hass #1 introduces Joshua “Josh” Jones.  Josh is an entering freshman at a college “deep in the heart of Texas.”  First day on campus, Josh falls in love with fellow student, Maggie Stewart.  Josh has to work hard to get Maggie to give him a chance at romance.  He will have to work even harder to confront the racism and the violence that his courtship of Maggie ignites.

The back cover copy of Hass #1 describes the series as a story that is William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet meets American History X (the 1998 film).  I think such a comparison works for cover copy, but Hass is more than a combo plate of other fiction.  It is simply a powerful, contemporary drama – a rarity in American comics.

Bart A. Thompson (Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies) offers what is some of his best writing; in fact, I’m sure that it is the best that I have read.  The dialogue is evocative, complex, rich, and tricky.  Josh is shallow, or more correctly, he puts up so many different fronts, like a rainbow of shallow personas, that he offers something for everyone.  He is hiding something and is trying to protect himself.  Thompson makes you want to delve into this guy and uncover his secrets.  It is the same with Maggie Stewart; she puts up a storm front that is a wall to keep people from seeing that she is trying to manage difficult personal problems alone, when she really needs help.

Late in this first issue, another character admits to thinking that Josh is trying to be something that he is not, and that surprised me.  When I went back and followed the clues, I could see why that character would think that of Josh.  Hass also has an excellent ending, one that will guarantee that readers will want to come back.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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