First Impressions: Hardcore
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Despite his work on The Walking Dead, which is almost always compelling, I’ve been sour on Robert Kirkman since I read the first issue of Thief of Thieves. I know some people really liked it, but it did virtually nothing for me. Thankfully, Hardcore #1 fared much better.
Our hero is Agent Drake, an assassin who works for an organization capable of implanting someone’s consciousness into someone else’s mind against their will, using a device called a hardcore. Via a hardcore, Drake gets close to his targets by entering the mind of someone close to them. This is all much to the chagrin of Drake’s old comrade Markus, who developed the hardcore technology, but was deemed ill fit to use it himself because of a physical. But Markus has plans to take back what’s his, and Drake is about to pay a very heavy price.
As I made my way through this book, I became concerned that this story would be too reminiscent of something starring DC Comics’ Deadman, i.e. a hero jumping from body to body in order to solve a crime or mystery. The plot we do get is a spin on a fairly common motif in body switcher stories: Being trapped in a body that’s not your own, and having to find your way back to your real one. But Kirkman’s execution leaves the door open for a lot of action, suspense, and assuming we get to know the characters a little better, drama.
The story starts very effectively, with Drake trying to wrap up a hit. We see the obstacles he faces don’t merely consist of hostile henchman and hazardous circumstances, but the quality of body he winds up in. For instance, one of his first lines in the issue is: “This body is horrible! Who pegged this one? I can barely move him!” That’s a nice bit of insight I suspect many readers wouldn’t have thought of. Brian Stelfreeze also executes the fight very well, conveying the tension and intensity in a way that keeps the reader hooked. As most of the remainder of the issue consists of necessary exposition and information, starting it out this way kept it from being a chore.
I suppose my only real reservation about this book is that we don’t get great snapshots of who Drake or Markus really are. That’s understandable given all that’s going on in this issue, but I hope we get those details soon. Right now, Drake looks like a typical cocky action movie star, who curiously lives in a meek apartment despite lush payment, and Markus looks like the usual breed of bitter bad guy. Given Kirkman’s ability to create distinct, memorable characters (even Thief of Thieves had that going for it), I’m not concerned. But it does bear mentioning.
Hardcore puts Robert Kirkman in my good graces again. Call me crazy, but this guy just may have a bright future in the comic book industry…
Front page image from imagecomics.com. Interior image from bleedingcool.com.