Created by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
“I’m not a private eye. I’m just… someone who helps people sometimes.”
It’s Los Angeles in the 1980s, and former sixties radical/undercover FBI agent turned surfer dude/troubleshooter (or is that troublemaker?) ETHAN RECKLESS is on the prowl, going down mean streets Chandler could never have imagined; streets teeming with sex and drugs and rock’n’roll (“for some reason, there always had to be skinheads”), filled with more than a dollop of male wish fulfillment. I mean, Ethan works out of the El Ricardo, an old abandoned movie theatre, his pink-haired assistant, Anna, is a mouthy but cute teenage DJ/punkette, and he drives a Dodge Van from the 70s.
Very good indeed.
Even better, though, is that Reckless isn’t just some bare-chested meathead action hero whose knuckles barely clear the ground–he’s fully aware of the world around him, and his part in it. Sure, he may half-jokingly dismiss himself as a “maudlin old stoner”, and he may occasionally escape into the comfort of screening old TV shows and B-flicks at the El Ricardo. But he knows it’s only a temporary escape—and that out there things don’t always end well.
Yet ssomehow, he can’t quite help himself–he gives a damn.
Ethan made his debut in the action-jammed Reckless (2020), the first in a series of hardcover graphic novels by that dastardly duo, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and more books are promised–each one, we’re told, a standalone full-length story.
But hey… Brubaker? Phillips? The “modern masters of comic noir” (Criminal, The Fade Out, etc.)?
Judging from the cheesily lurid covers, a few pre-publication blurbs and interviews with Brubaker himself (which seem to namecheck everyone from Travis McGee and Jack Reacher to Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson), he and his partner in crime Phillips are definitely going after that Men’s Adventure/action flick vibe, with more than a touch of 1970s Harry O and Jim Rockford P.I. drama sprinkled on top.
And… they nail it.
Even better news is that Brubaker and Phillips are having fun with it. “We’re really enjoying the Reckless books right now,” Brubaker said in Publishers Weekly in May 2021. “I really thought we’d do three or four of them and do a break to do something else, but we’re both so into it. I’m already deep into the third book and Sean is already starting to draw it. I was talking to a friend of mine and bouncing ideas off of her, and suddenly I had the idea for the fourth book.”
Please, Ed, make it so…
- “Imagine Redford at his peak, ambling through sun-drenched, eighties L.A. in a serpentine plot that is equal parts Long Goodbye and Point Break… Explosive. Vital. And yes… reckless. I love this book.”
— Damon Lindelof
- “Reckless is an absolute rush: on the same level as golden age Travis McGee novels and the hardest-hitting Richard Stark stories. This one comes at you as fast as Steve McQueen in a souped-up Mustang and as hard as Charles Bronson with a baseball bat. You gotta have it.”
— Joe Hill
- “Oh man, this book pushed every crime fiction button for me…Bliss.”
— Patton Oswalt
- Reckless (2020) | Buy the comic | Kindle/ComiXology it!
- Friend of the Devil (2021) | Buy the comic | Kindle/ComiXology it!
- Destroy All Monsters (2021) | Buy the comic | Kindle/ComiXology it!
- The Ghost in You (2022) | Buy the graphic novel | Kindle/ComiXology it!
- Follow Me Down (2022) | Buy the graphic novel | Kindle/ComiXology it!
- Graphic Content: Into The Crime-Riddled 1980’S Los Angeles Of Ethan Reckless
Alex Segura grills Ed Brubaker on private eyes, pulp thrillers, and his collaboration with Sean Phillips, Reckless. (December 2020, CrimeReads)
- Ed Brubaker On 1980s Los Angeles, Private Eye Fiction, And The Changing Face Of Graphic Novels
Segura grills Brubaker some more… no rubber hoses, so far. (November 2021, CrimeReads)
- Private Eyes by the Number
P.I.s in Men’s Adventure Books
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- May 26, 2021
THE BOTTOM LINE: A 1980’s SoCal surfer/slacker who’s “not a private eye. Just someone who helps people sometimes.”
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.