When Entertainment Weekly named John McClane as one of the Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture, they probably never took into account that the hero who gets the job done when no one else will started out as a New York beat cop in the 1970s.Â Sure beating the crap out of international terrorists seems pretty glamorous, but what was McClaneâ€™s life like before that fateful flight to L.A.?
I remember July 4, 1976 quite well, even though I was a wee pup of four years old.Â The smell of the firecrackers, the hippies running around doing that thing the hippies of the 70â€™s did, and the general happiness of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the nation made for a joyus day. Of course I didnâ€™t live in New York City – with all that hot time, summer in the city, where the back of your neck got dirty and gritty.Â One the surface, everything looks well and good, but when Howard Chaykin takes a peek at the fine details something big is about to blow up.
Whatâ€™s most interesting about this issue is how Chaykin intercuts the lives of the nine main characters in this issue in a way that makes sense, even though there is no direct connection between them… yet. We saw something very similar in the first Die Hard movie, and it worked quite well in defining who all the characters were without blatantly smacking the audience in the face with needless facts and information.
And while the cutting back and forth at the beginning of the story seems fairly random, by the end of the issue, a couple of cops, a pretty girl, and a scumbagâ€™s lives all intersect in a dark alley.Â Where does John McClane fit into this?Â Itâ€™s hard to tell at this point, but it looks like something big is about to go down, and with corruption inside the force, and a damsel in distress, McClane is going to be doing more than busting his knuckles across the face of a pickpocket before the end of this series.
This first issue starts off kind of slow, as it is nothing more than character development with a minimum amount of action.Â However, Iâ€™m drawn in by the way the details and events are played out of the reader.Â Chaykin does an excellent job with the dialogue, as every character has their own distinct voice.
I like Stephen Thompsonâ€™s art in this issue.Â While you arenâ€™t going to see Bruce Willisâ€™ likeness in the pages, Thompson does take the time to really define each character so the reader can identify them even in a crowded scene.Â The only issue I have with the art is that darn photorealistic drawing style that makes the city scene look like a photograph with a heaping helping of Photoshop filters.Â Itâ€™s something that has bothered me for a long time in comics – not just this one issue – but it is something Iâ€™m warming to over time.
The best thing about this issue is it sets up the mystery in the mind of the reader as one tries to figure out what is going on.Â We are not privy to all the secrets, so that hook, along with the notion that McClane will get involved in the big event makes for a good introduction to the world of Die Hard.Â If you are fan of the movie series, or just want a good cop story, then Die Hard is series worth checking out.Â Die Hard: Year One #1 earns 4.5 out of 5 Stars.