Review: The Lengths #4-5

Artist(s): Howard Hardiman.

Issues 4 and 5 of Howard Hardiman’s story give us a few more pieces of the puzzle that is Eddie’s life. For those of you who haven’t read my posts about the previous issues, I’ll say that The Lengths is a not completely fictional story about a young hustler and his friends and colleagues.

It seems apt that the fourth issue has James on the cover, Eddie’s boyfriend from before he became a hustler. In this issue, Eddie is still looking both to the past and the present, acknowledging his mistakes with James but also wallowing in feelings of worthlessness, especially toward Dan, his current boyfriend from whom he’s hiding his activities. It’s revealing to see whom he compares himself to: his current ideal seems to be Nelson, the muscle-bound hustler with his head firmly on his shoulder—and a steroid use that would rival action movie actors’.
As with the previous issues, there are some impressive illustrations here, for example the full page of the hustlers “at work”, or the black background page of Eddie falling down the rabbit hole of despair.

gay futurism?

Eddie at the bottom of it all

While the fourth issue feels a transitional moment, with Eddie still wondering how he’s going to balance his burgeoning relationship with Dan and his working life as Fred the hustler, the fifth issue sees a definite turn: The bulked-up Fred persona takes over Eddie’s mental landscape for good, a landscape strewn with empty steroid syringes and, thankfully, lots of condoms.
Hardiman does not avoid moral issues: while he doesn’t judge his characters for choosing a taboo job, he also shows them making some questionable choices, as we see during a conversation between Nelson and Eddie about barebacking.
This issue is in fact rather heartbreaking, as we see a young man who’s not unable to question himself and his life but who chooses a path that takes him away from love and into a very limited territory.

You can see previews of these issues on Howard Hardiman’s website here, and you can buy these comics here. The first issue is available for free online here.

Comments are closed.