Die Hard: Year One #5-8
Written by Howard Chaykin
Art by Gabriel Andrade
Published by BOOM! Studios.
In the first four issues of Die Hard: Year One, readers were let down by a plot overstuffed with characters and lacking any true resemblance of the tone of the original movies. This second volume, collecting issues 5-8, suffers a similar fate in that it fails to ignite any passion in the reader, instead going through the motions and producing an average comic book.
Our protagonist, John McClane, is now a detective experiencing his first year on the job. The plot involves two events: the first being a hostage situation and the second, a citywide blackout, being used to cover multiple examples of looting. Meanwhil, John meets Holly, his future wife.
Here McClane closer resembles the character fans know and love from the film series, with more subtle character moments fleshing out the action hero. Once again McClane is the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, however the story doesn’t present this as cliched, instead flowing freely and allowing the story and character to develop. McClane also seems more interested in being an actual detective than an action hero, arresting villains for the majority of the story as opposed to simply taking them down as seen, inevitably, within the action film franchise. Whilst the first volume felt crowded with a variety of supporting characters, the balance here is more settled, with the plot and McClane allowed sufficient time to shine through.
The simplistic art has echoes of brilliance but never hits a home run with the shaded style reminiscent of Gotham Central, but without the charm or subtle nuances. However, it is a step up from the art seen in the previous volume. The tone matches the style of the story and maintains a consistent form throughout moments of action and the dialogue heavy scenes, meaning that the book flows well. Nothing upsets a comic book story more than inconsistent art, whether that’s a change in artist or an artist that struggles with certain moments (action or talking scenes) however this book has no such problem.
Based on this story and the increase in quality since the first volume, its a shame that no further adventures of McClane have appeared in comic book form. Chaykin has a grasp on McClane after an uneven start and the art has improved with the change of artist, providing a well-formed book with a strong storyline that will keep fans entertained. It would be impossible to recreate the thrill of the original film in another format but this is a good effort that aims high and almost hits a bullseye in every aspect of storytelling. It might not deserve the ‘ki-yay’ but after reading the first volume, this collection does generate a ‘Yippee’.