Max Allan Collins Delivers Top Shelf Pulp with Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer #1

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Mike Hammer 1 B cover

It was going to be a good day. Wednesday's always were. Far enough away from last weekend to be over my hangover, and close enough to the next weekend I could start anticipating my next drunk.

Since I was going to be lucid for a little while, I thought it would be a good idea to find something to distract my brain from the glitz and glamour of the grafitti-spattered heroin houses and hoopties that doubled as homeless shelters. It being a Wednesday, my local comic shop had just the ticket: new comic books.

But like any mind-numbing drug, the longer you use them the more you need the good stuff to get the same high. Fortunately, I had a hookup with connections and an eye for quality.

That's how I ended up with a copy of MICKEY SPILLANE'S MIKE HAMMER #1. I was torn at first, between the Alex Ronald cover and the Mack Chater one. To be honest, I was leaning heavily to the Ronald one, for the sheer sex appeal alone. Ultimately, my libido won out over my pocketbook again, and I took the Robert McGinnis original cover. Yeah, Robert McGinnis. Yeah, he's dead. So's Mickey Spillane. Get over it.

Max Allan Collins knows a thing or three about writing private dicks. Yes, he wrote Batman for a while. Yeah, he wrote Dick Tracy for a while. Yeah, he wrote Ms. Tree for a while. And now he's writing top shelf pulp with MIKE HAMMER. He's a veteran at this kind of story-slinging, so you can relax.

We meet Mike chasing a lowlife over the high rises. In the business, they call that in media res. It means he's too busy for a proper introduction, so get in, pipe down, and keep up. We find out it's a pretty typical case. Someone shot somebody. Someone wants to know who did it. Obvious suspects are innocent, and the deadly twist comes with equally deadly curves.

That ain't the point. The point is that along the way, Mike made enemies. Okay, more enemies. Fast forward a year, and Mike's got another case that puts him on a collision course with that enemy. Having more balls than brains, Mike takes the case instead of a long vacation. But it smells of a setup. The client is a no-show, and suddenly Mike's playing escort to a damsel in distress.

And that's it. That's what we in the business call "the hook." That means it's just enough to be a tease, like the hint of a garter belt showing below the hem of a hiked-up skirt. If you like what you see, bring more money next time and get a little more.

That's how it works with drugs, peep show girls, and comic books. Collins gives the mix its addictive kick, while Marcelo Salaza & Marcio Freire dress it up in eye candy that makes your knees wobble.

Get your local comic book shop to set up a tab. You'll be coming back.

God, I love Wednesdays.



4.5 / 5.0