The Gray Area #1
Writer: Glen Brunswick
Artist: John Romita Jr.
the detective comic. The gritty, dark, detective comic.
Don’t see many of those, these days, do ya’?
Gray Area follows dirty Detective Rudy Chance as he
brokers drug deals, bosses around the mobsters he trades
with, turns down the hooker with a heart of gold who falls
for him (not because he’s a decent guy, mind you;
he’s just in it for the action), and does just about
everything else he can to make us downright loathe him.
like all heels, Chance has a thoroughly decent partner who
admonishes him for cheating on his wife just before Chance
chides HIM for not being able to pull the trigger since
that one time he shot a kid (which, I think, makes for the
fourth cliché in 11 pages, but who’s counting?).
life catches up with Chance in a hurry and, after raising
rates on the local mob boss, he soon finds his idyllic vacation
spot in the Hamptons littered with the blood of his wife
months later, what’s the first thought that crosses
his mind? “Someone is gonna pay for this…”
never saw that coming. Never saw that coming at all.
to admit that this book isn’t as awful as it could
be, but it’s filled with so many clichés and
such trite elements that I feel no need whatsoever to pick
up the next issue. It probably doesn’t help that this
one ends in such a way that we have no idea what the next
issue’s going to be like, but the one thing we can
count on being the same is Chance, and, well, I just don’t
like Chance. I don’t hate him either, and that’s
concept behind the title is that Chance is neither pure
evil nor pure good. He’s supposed to be a soul caught
between the extremes. The gray area. Only problem is chance
ISN’T in the gray area. He’s a bad guy. Nothing
he does is for the greater good or helps anyone but himself.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy of the goodness in selfishness
aside, heroes are ultimately altruistic and often selfless.
Rudy Chance doesn’t do anything that isn’t directly
for his benefit and hurts everyone he meets. Bad guy.
not TOO bad. Not the kind of tragic hero that we can’t
take our eyes off of. Just bad enough to not fit in “the
Brunswick’s story finds some nice beats, but the majority
of it feels old hat. It probably doesn’t help that
the “Making Of…” material taking up a
third of the book repeatedly makes note that the concept
was Romita Jr.’s and Brunswick was invited along to
flesh it out. Seeing the sketches, I can agree that Romita
Jr.’s work is powerful and carries a lot of the story,
but Brunswick’s words don’t always mesh with
the images and sometimes seem redundant.
three-issue mini, it probably wasn’t the best idea
to use the entire first issue for an origin story. The book
just isn’t complex enough, and, by the end, we still
can only guess at what’s going on with the cover.
This looks to be a story of redemption, so I can go for
the duality theme it suggests, but the glowing left hand
and evil robot-eye thing sticking out of his chest are another
much as I can appreciate Romita Jr.’s penciling, Klaus
Janson’s inking just hurts. He takes work similar
to what we’ve seen on Amazing Spider-man and makes
it too scratchy and sloppy by half. With some pencils, that
isn’t a kiss of death. However, Romita Jr.’s
work looks messy without decent inking to flesh it out.
what it all comes down to is the price tag, and, at $5.95,
The Gray Area just isn’t worth it. If larger,
more expensive issues are your thing, do yourself a favor
and pick up DC: The New
Frontier, instead. If you want to support a great
new creator-owned title from Image, read The
The Gray Area to sycophantic Romita Jr. fans.