This entry covers “Hazard” issues 1 through 4 by “Hazard” Jeff Mariotte, Roy Allan Martinez, Gerry Alanguilan and Edgar Tadeo w/ some help from Whilce Portacio
So covering this book is odd. Odd, because it is only tangentially related to the overall WildStorm Universe / Story, but certainly has its roots in it and also because it leaves no lasting relevancy. I know it is hard for a new book to make an impact, and not everything thrown at the wall sticks, but this might be the first big “failure” that I’m covering here at Weathering WildStorm, so lock-in, it’s an interesting ride.
At the start of the first issue, we are immediately met with the star of the book, a bounty hunter by the name Alex Hutton. Alex is in Vegas hunting down some gangsters for information, and when he catches up with them they are very surprised to see him. Why you ask? Because while hunting down a bail jumping gangster named Leo Kyle things go all sorts of wrong for Alex, and all these gangsters were there and saw when said things went wrong. You see, Kyle is friends with a gang boss by the name of Johnny Pepper and when Alex goes to find Kyle at Pepper’s dessert estate, Pepper’s men get the best of Alex. They incapacitate Alex with the help of some Hunter-Killers and then ship him off to Gamorra as a guinea pig for a doctor by the name of Emilio D’Oro.
When Alex comes to on Gamorra he’s informed that he’s been pumped full of nanobots, bots that will make him so much stronger than before. In Dr. D’Oro’s words, Alex is now a superassassin. He’s got crazy great vision, a little bit quicker, and a hell of a lot stronger! But D’Oro isn’t dumb, he’s put in a kill switch, for which Alex will need to see the doctor at least once every two weeks to keep from dying. In the short term the doctor can also inflict pain on to Alex, so you know, that sucks. Before Dr. D’Oro can get Alex, or as D’Oro calls him “Hazard,” to do a damn thing there’s a bunch of earthquakes that start to crumble Dr. D’Oro’s lab. D’Oro gets away, but not before seeing that Alex made it out alive as well.
While we don’t see Alex making his way back to America, we do see him once he’s here, and that’s where we started, in Las Vegas with him scaring the be-jebus out of Leo Kyle just by being alive. Alex wants to know how to get ahold of Dr. D’Oro, and Kyle has no idea other than to go ask Johnny Pepper. Yeah, back to that guy. Alex goes after Pepper at his compound and comes up short. Other than a bunch of fighting, all Alex manages to do is meet a feisty red-head and piss Pepper of more because Pepper doesn’t know how to find D’Oro any more either. Sucks to be Alex Hutton.
So while all this is going on we also are privy to a few subplots as well that come into focus soon. The first is that Alex has an assistant named Carolyn, and Carolyn is a widow. Carolyn’s husband was a cop, and she’s just starting to date his old partner Ollie, the partner is the one who killed Carolyn’s husband and covered it up. Luckily Alex has a buddy on the force named Bratton, and he’s is zeroing in on the proof of Ollie being a murderer. We also find out about two young super-powered robbers by the names of Nitro Grrl and Doctor Shock. They’ve been robbing their way across the South West and now they’re in Los Angeles (by the way, Alex is based out of L.A. but he spends so much time outside of it, it’s easy to forget.) The latest target of Nitro Grrl and Doctor Shock is an electronics store that happens to have a large safe in the back. What’s in that safe? A ton of money. Who’s money? Johnny Pepper’s, because he’s been using the electronics shop as a way to launder that money! Uh-oh!
Alright, I skimmed over something earlier, and that’s how Alex got put on the trail of Leo Kyle in the first place which lead to all this… well you know, mess. It was a fellow bailsman by the name of Al. While it didn’t seem all that important then it turns out to be important when we learn that it was Al who sold Alex out to Dr. D’Oro! After exacting some revenge on Al, and taking the money that Dr. D’Oro had paid Al, Alex gets a number from Al that could put him on a new lead.
So while Alex is using this number to find a connection to Dr. D’Oro, Johnny Pepper has found Nitro Grrl and Doctor Shock and made them a deal. The deal is that they have to hunt down and take out Alex. These two aren’t the smartest, they’re just kids, and they do have a bit of trouble keeping track of him. Hell, he even manages to sneak up behind their car and flatten a tire! Alex gets away for a bit, just enough time to get a call from Bratton telling Alex he has the proof on Ollie, Carolyn’s husband’s killer, and to meet him at the pier to find out more. While this is happening Carolyn gets kidnapped by Ollie.
So it’s all coming to a head here, Alex meets up with Bratton under the pier. It turns out that Bratton is as dirty as Ollie and it’s all a setup. Damn! They are going to kill Carolyn unless Alex gives himself up. While Alex is preparing to let himself be shot, Nitro Grrl and Doctor Shock finally catch up to Alex. The involvement of Carolyn makes them each think twice about what to do, but Nitro Grrl blows up the pier anyway because Carolyn isn’t near there. It’s a good enough distraction, and Doctor Shock manages to take out Bratton. Now Alex knows that the kids are here to kill him, and despite them murdering Bratton he isn’t sure if they will kill him next or Ollie, and Ollie is ready to kill Carolyn. Alex makes a tough choice and shoots Doctor Shock to prevent his own death, leaving him to save Carolyn. Only Carolyn doesn’t need saving as Nitro Grrl takes out Ollie. But there’s no time to slow down, the clock is ticking on Alex’s life. He’s got about a week to find Dr. D’Oro so that he can continue to live!
- In “Hazard” issue 2 we find out that everything that occurred on Gamorra and his nanotech implants was four days ago, that’s why we put this so soon after the conclusion of “Fire with Heaven”
- The reason we truck on through the first four issues is that they are occurring pretty much over the next few days. By issue 4 Alex confirms that it has been three more days getting and he is through his first week, and needing to get to D’Oro soon! When we catch back up with Alex is “Hazard” issue 5 we find him with just 28 hours left to live, so that affords us a decent break to catch up with other books.
- The end of issue 1 and the beginning of issue 2 are a flashback that occurs during the “Fire from Heaven” storyline. News about Kaizen Gamorra comes to Dr. D’Oro at one point, and the earthquakes caused by the Moon are ultimately what saves Alex.
- The number that Al gives Alex comes in handy off-panel, and we’ll find out more about it and the results it got in issue 5.
- The “feisty red-head” as I called her, comes back in issue 6. She probably would’ve been a main cast character if the book continued for longer than 7 issues.
- I wish we could see more from Nitro Grrl. It’s a shame that Doctor Shock is dead, but damn I love those two dopey kids!
NEXT: “Black Ops” issues 3 – 5 by Shon Bury, Dan Norton, and Sandra Hope