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Three Strikes #1 By Matt Martin
Oni Press – Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir (w); Brian Hurtt (a)
I’ve gotta say, I was sorely tempted to just leave the review at that. Frankly, I think it might have made a more profound impact and caused more people to run out and buy the book (which they should) if I had. But I talk a lot, so I decided to go ahead and ramble on about Three Strikes anyway.
Rey Quintana is a product of the inner city who, having been mixed up in some gang-related crimes in his misspent youth, has been trying to get his life back on track. Habitually low on cash due to putting himself through college, Rey makes an unsuccessful attempt to palm some earrings at a jewelry store for his girlfriend’s birthday. His embarrassment is compounded with fear when the prosecutor at his initial hearing announces that he intends to seek to use the state’s “three strikes” law against Rey, increasing a fairly minor sentence to well over twenty years. Feeling he has no other recourse, Rey flees the area in the custody of a friend (who is a genuine criminal).
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Noah Conway is a bail bondsman who hates his life. Formerly a police officer that loved his job, he quit the force at his wife’s request (who felt that he didn’t have enough time for his family as a cop). When she left him anyway, Noah settled for the next best thing. After finishing a job, Conway arrives at his ex-wife’s house just in time to be late for picking up his daughter. As the issue closes, Noah’s phone rings and he promises his daughter that the next week belongs to her…Just as soon as he takes that call.
From the moment you know both characters’ situations, you can see the collision coming. In fact, it might be something that was outlined in the solicitation text, but I can’t recall…In any event, what makes the book so interesting is the contrasts that DeFilippis and Weir make while telling the two very different characters’ stories, as both Rey and Noah narrate their own respective portions of the issue. Rey’s portion, the one that opens the book, features him immediately taking responsibility for his actions, admitting that it was stupid and he knows it, but providing a convincingly sympathetic rationale for what he did. Noah’s, on the other hand, places the blame for his present situation squarely on the shoulders of his wife, detailing the ways in which he feels she gave him the shaft.
It’s a nice contrast, one that certainly polarizes the two central characters, but it’s made all the more powerful by the simple fact that they share a common bond: desperation. Both of them are going to be forced, by circumstances that are both of their own design and out of their control, to make decisions that are less than optimal simply because they’re the only choices offered to them.
On a sort of tangential note, I’m now about ten times as interested in Marvel’s upcoming New Mutants relaunch, as it features this same writing team. Skinwalker, their previous effort, was pretty damned impressive. However, on its own, I doubt it would have been a strong enough motivation for me to pick up New Mutants. Three Strikes, however, is the book that will have me looking each month in Previews for another book by DeFilippis and Weir.