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Comics Bulletin gives Hotwire: Deep Cut #2 its “highest recommendation”

Review by Ray Tate

Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh imagine a world where Blackwater-type corporate security conclaves became even more interconnected with the government. Bear Claw Security now operates openly in the future city skies of Hotwire.

Last issue, while in pursuit of a blue-light “ghost” encapsulated in a prototype military-issue exoskeleton, Commander Rantz of Bear Claw caused an astounding lethal auto wreck. It’s the kind of thing that cancels contracts and perhaps even gets one indicted. This issue of Deep Cut deals with the repercussions of Rantz’s bone-headed short sightedness and his callous attempts to cover up his mistakes.

Alice Hotwire is a Detective Exorcist for the Metro City Police. She’s also a genius with a passion for science and indomitable. Her partner Mobey is a more traditional detective, but together they make a fantastic team. Rantz impedes Alice’s investigation to save his own skin. Ala Joe Miller’s security police, he incarcerates Alice without legal authority. He steals a weapon of mass destruction that will wipe out all the blue-lights, which Alice sees as psychologically disastrous. All and all, Commander Rantz is a grade A sphincter.

What a brilliant creation. Alice says it best: “Rantz is twice as clever as he pretends to be but about as half as clever as he thinks he is.” Alice however is as clever as she thinks she is, and Pugh displays this ample intellect in a variety of scenes. She is at once the explainer for the reader and the bright focus of the reader’s attention. Her actions against Rantz make you grin and the way she dismisses an abusive boyfriend is worthy of applause. Alice is refreshing. She doesn’t take shit. She’s a fully capable detective. She understands things on levels that the other characters can only dream of, and she’s darn likeable.

One of the winning moments in the book occurs when her fellow badges thank her for saving them from the blue-lights that attacked the station. They boisterously carry her on their shoulders, ignore her protests, and she wears their crown of a Metro City Cop Cap through half the book.

Steve Pugh is one of the most underrated artists in the business. I was first wowed by his art in the highly recommended Superman vs.Terminator mini-series. Every panel in Hotwire: Deep Cut looks utterly gorgeous. There’s an almost Don Maitz touch to the vibrant paintings, and the emotions on display even surpass the cast’s expressions from the last series. This is especially true when a mother who may be dead poignantly imagines a defensive Utopian vision to give her the strength to carry on for the sake of her unborn baby. Hotwire earns my highest recommendation.

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