Advance Review – Hardcore #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound Imprint)
Created by: Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artwork: Alessandro Vitti
Colours: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Release Date: 19th December 2018

Imagine a world not too dissimilar to our own. Imagine there are shadowy crime families and cartels who threaten the freedom you enjoy, along with equally shadowy government agencies who protect you whilst you remain ignorant of their power… Okay, so maybe that doesn’t take too much imagination these days.

But now also imagine that technology exists which allows trained individuals to essentially hijack your body remotely and control it like some twisted technocratic marionette. These secret agents could be anyone at any time; the perfect weapon against the rise of organised crime and proxy warfare. This isn’t some posthuman tale spun by the likes of Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, it’s a high-octane Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster starring Gerard Butler or Jason Statham.

I appreciate that sounds a little condescending or snobby but it’s actually quite the contrary. I love me some action packed science fiction and on that front, Hardcore delivers in spades. Hmm, the title is maybe actually a bit of a giveaway…

Opening with a healthy dose of violence, superbly delivered by Alessandro Vitti and Adriano Lucas, followed by some exposition explaining the gist of what’s going on, we are brought to an ending with time on the clock. There’s a job to be done and a tight window in which to do it. It’s maybe something of a trope now (we’ve only 24 hours to save the earth!) but it fits the overall feel of this book perfectly, putting me in mind of films like 48 Hours or, for you younger readers, Crank.

To further expand on the delivery of the art in this issue, it’s just such a great fit with Andy Diggle’s story. The raw energy and movement captured in the action scenes flow with proper choreography, avoiding all the pitfalls and traps of feeling blocky or stilted. The tech overlays are busy but tight on detail and add a great contrast to the thoroughly believable modern settings.

I’ve said a few times before that I feel onomatopoeia can be easily overused, and upon skimming through this issue it definitely stood out, but when sitting down to properly immerse myself in Hardcore, it really served to add that extra oomph to the visual violent treats on display.

Reading this review back, I feel like I’ve overly simplified Diggle’s story, much to his discredit, as there’s great characterisation and a classic villainous foil in here too, albeit with some unrealistic body standards in the male leads…

What I see is some hand wavy sci-fi tech used to drive a good idea into a great comic. Sure there’s some deeper questions of ethics and morals in posthumanity, but sometimes you just want to be entertained, right? And in that respect, Hardcore is proper blockbuster stuff.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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