Hard Time Season Two #4 (2006)

This terrific series keeps rolling along.
The issue begins with Ethan Harrow, our young protagonist, being beat up by a group of Italian thugs in the jail they share. The jail is divided among various ethnic and political lines, and Ethan is the ultimate outsider at the jail. He’s not part of the Italian gang, or a Nazi or black power fighter. Instead, Ethan seems to always be involved in things he shouldn’t be, picking fights with members of each power broker, in order to fight for his idea of justice. Surprisingly, though, the person who stops the beating is the man whose very physical presence hurts Ethan: Cutter, the man who loves to inflict and receive pain.
Cutter leads a group of outsiders, which includes Cindy, the young man who loves to be treated as a woman, and this issue is mostly about his life, both before and after entering prison. Readers get a feel for Cindy’s younger life, as we see him fight his impulses towards femininity, finally coming to head with a confrontation with his step-father. The story seems familiar, but as usual with Gerber and Skrenes, the writers find some new and unique touches in the story.
Finally, at the end of the issue, Cutter is a horrible fight himself, as retribution for what he did earlier in the issue, which beings up interesting questions for what Ethan should do.
Overall this is a nice, thoughtful issue. Cindy moves from being a cipher to a more fully-fleshed character, and Brian Hurtt’s cover is terrific.

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