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I love it when improvements in comic books are pulled off in terms of writing, art and creativity.
Let’s start this look back at Hardcase #3, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 under the Ultraverse banner with a story written by James Hudnall and drawn by Jim Callahan.
The story begins in Mexico. To the surprise of armed, armored personnel, an explosion happened and Choice emerges. It turns out this was footage from the recent past being reviewed by two men in suits. They are aware that Choice is in California and has teamed up already with Hardcase. They speculate that the two are making their way to corporate headquarters.
The shadowy figure, a man who is not a man, in the room makes a decision.
“I’ve decided to provide you with some help for two reasons. One: I want to see Hardcase fall. Two: I want to test out a band of ultra-assassins I’ve concocted,” he said.
Elsewhere, Hardcase tells a police office that they were attacked. A man named Chuck arrives to talk to Hardcase. He is a friend of the sheriffs of Ventura and offers to help. Hardcase introduces him to Choice and tells him that armed assassins were after her to force her to return to the Choice corporation.
Suddenly, very eager TV news crews arrived to get the scoop compelling Choice and Hardcase to leave. What the two do not know is that they are being watched…..
In describing the quality of this comic book, I am happy to say that the fun, engagement and strong creativity is back. This is definitely a major improvement over Hardcase #2. For one thing, artist Jim Callahan returned to do the artwork and brought back the visual fun and flair of issue #1. There is a lot of action scenes in this comic book and each page is nicely drawn by Callahan. Nice impact on the hard blows too.
In terms of writing, James Hudnall did a good job balancing the spectacle with the narrative and characterization. The way Hudnall deepened the plot with intriguing new details is very solid, and he cleverly pulled off some twists here and there.
Hardcase #3 is a good comic book and it more than made up for the lackluster story in issue #2. It should be noted that this comic book efficiently links Hardcase with other elements of the Ultraverse’ shared universe, plus the final page delivered an excellent conclusion.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #3, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition and the newsstand edition cost $4 and $8 respectively.
Overall, Hardcase #3 is recommended.
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