Going in cold into B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin’s “Hawaiian Dick” series I didn't know exactly what to expect. I wasn't familiar with the Byrd Brothers and this "new" chapter, 'Aloha, Hawaiian Dick' turns out it was actually written five years ago. It was finally released with Moore and artist Jacob Wyatt as the creative team and it doesn't reinvent the pulpy island detective story but it smoothly and comfortably embraces the genre wholeheartedly.
Despite the characters having histories from other publications and the nice concise recap at the beginning brings you up to speed quickly, Aloha, Hawaiian Dick is easy to get into. If you're a new reader like me you won't feel like you're missing something although based on the strength of the first issue you'd be smart to seek out other volumes as well. Moore balances the exposition with just enough for newbies but not too much for longtime readers.
Mike Byrd is the typical private dick with unhealthy vices. He's been gambling and gambling poorly. Kansas City hasn't been too rewarding for him. Losing his ass playing cards has him taking on a job, a run-of-the-mill snooping on an unfaithful wife assignment. Inevitably, the easy assignment turns out to be anything but and serendipitously finds him with a one-way ticket to Hawaii and a reunion with his brothers.
You can call “Aloha, Hawaiian Dick” the antithesis to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' much darker but excellent 'The Fade Out.' It's lighter tone comes through when Mike is confronted by a gangster. He sounds more like George Clooney in 'Out of Sight' than Humphrey Bogart in the 'Big Sleep.' Mike isn't hardboiled just pragmatic. The backup story by artist Jason Armstrong, in particular, is a jazzy tale of drug dealing musicians full of quirky shady characters.
This first issue doesn't mind falling into detective story plot devices to put the characters in place before the real action takes place. We're going to Hawaii y'all and it promises to be a bloody good time. Wyatt uses a great cinematic style to lay out scenes. They move to a casual beat that's paced well and oftentimes is stunning in its simplicity. The sequence with the gangster is probably the centerpiece that crackles and pops with all the right action and dialogue.
“Aloha, Hawaiian Dick” #1 is a welcomed introduction to the uninitiated. Moore knows his genre, loves his protagonist, and masterfully has fun setting up the next set piece. It's the equivalent of doing your summer reading on a beach chair in Maui while sipping on a daiquiri. If you like Elmore Leonard novels then this pulpy private eye adventure is just your style.