Here it is, the final issue of the first story arc of Die Hard: Year One. If you think John McClane is going to bite the bullet, you really don’t know John McClane. And even if you do know John McClane, there is still a surprise of two waiting inside this fourth issue.

diehard4cover.jpgDIE HARD: YEAR ONE #4 (B)
Written by Howard Chaykin
Drawn by Stephen Thompson
24pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Dave Johnson & Joe Cusko

There was a great deal of build up in this story as all the characters were put into place. Issue one featured the set up, while issue two found all the characters on a yacht headed to the middle of the Hudson. Issue three saw some action as the bad guys hijacked the boat, and issue four wraps it up neatly in a bow.

Even though he is still a young cop bucking for promotion, John McClane is more than ready to take control of the situation as the so-called eco-terrorist attempts to make a political statement (and walk away with a large sum of cash at the same time). It is interesting that the terrorists in the McClane stories use politics to cover up a simple heist, so when the terrorists rig the yacht with dynamite, it really comes as no surprise.

Even though the boat is not the largest in the Fourth of July parade of ships, McClane is able to follow the bombers around the ship, collecting the dynamite bundles as soon as they are placed. Howard Chaykin does a good job of explaining McClane’s feats as a by-product of his time in Vietnam, and when it does come time for the hand to hand and on ship gun battles, it plays out just fine. Chaykin also does an excellent job of showing the origins of the famous Die Hard catch-phrase, as McClane quotes both Matt Dillon and John Wayne, which makes the transition to Roy Rogers a simple connect the dots as the police officer grows older.

Of course McClane wins the day, gets the promotion, but doesn’t end up with the damsel in distress, but by the time I reached the final page, all I could think of was, “This is it?” There seemed to be a great deal of build up over the last three issues, and the action gets wrapped up in what seems to be the final pages of the series. My biggest complaint early on was the series had a really slow build which caused everything to stagnate, but then to suddenly slam the reader in the face with this neat ending makes it feel like I’ve been slammed into a brick wall. The overall story hasn’t been bad – the concept behind the story is solid, the setups are nice, the payoff is one that is expected and has a nice little twist, but the pacing seems jumbled.

Stephen Thompson continues to deliver a solid product in the panels of the issue, but I guess I’m going to have to disagree with others who say Thompson captures the look of Bruce Willis, because he really doesn’t. Maybe it is because I grew up on Willis in Moonlighting and knew he was never a thick character. Cover A artist Dave Johnson and Joe Jusko do a better job of capturing Willis’ likeness than the inside pages ever do. And that is fine by me, as I understand there are likeness rights issues that can prevent exact likeness from being used. And since this story is really different from the movies, I like that we are given a look that is different.

Overall, I’m split on this mini-series. I really like the concept. I really like that Boom! Studios was able to snag one of the most popular franchises of the 80s and 90s and tell a new and original story that fits with the continuity. I hope Boom! continues to tell more stories set in the early days of John McClane that show the character evolving. I’m troubled that this final issue appears to be about two months late in deliver (the letters column is clearly written for a November release), and I’m also a bit disappointed at how rushed the ending of this first arc was handled. I think I was hoping for something of epic proportions, but ended up with a story that is rather quick and quiet.  And that may be the very point of telling this Year One story – John McClane is developing as a super cop, and readers are only get a glimpse of how it all started in this first arc.

If you are a true Die Hard fan, chances are you’ve already picked up the individual issues and have read through them multiple times. If you haven’t I suggest you pick it up and check it out for what it is – a good attempt at telling a story set in the Die Hard universe.  Obviously from my remarks it isn’t a perfect story, but one that should entertain you for a short while. I do want to see more Die Hard: Year One stories, but for now, I’m giving this issue 3 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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1 Comment

  1. morpheus
    January 19, 2010 at 8:50 am — Reply

    I would have only given it 2 stars. I don’t know if it is them time between books or what, but I had a hard time following the story between issues. I am not sure if I will be picking up the next issue.

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