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Having reviewed the first eight issues of the Hardcase series, I should say that the title character is easily one of the best protagonists of the entire Ultraverse and the late author James Hudnall deserves credit for the storytelling and character development. Hardcase made it in CBR’s 2016 article about what is being missed from the Ultraverse.
As written in the said CBR.com article: Created by James Hudnall, Hardcase was one of the first superheroes in the Ultraverse, forming a team with some other early superheroes. They called themselves “The Squad,” and soon became extremely famous. However, tragedy struck when the team took on a powerful villain, who killed almost all of them, with only Hardcase remaining as The Squad’s only surviving member. Of his three other teammates, two died and one was comatose. He retired from being a superhero and instead became an actor, portraying himself in major motion pictures. When the Ultraverse officially began, Hardcase was pulled out of retirement to become a superhero once again.
Before he passed away on April 2019, Hudnall expressed his support for US President Donald Trump and pointed out that the media has been lying and the ones who are fascists are the rioters who attacked people since the 2016 election.
With all that information presented, let’s take a look back at Hardcase #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Hudnall and drawn by Brent Anderson (the same guy behind the 1982 graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills).
The story begins with Tom Hawke/Hardcase spending time with the comatose Linda. He tells her about what he went through recently. The narrative shifts to a few days back with his work in filmmaking. He meets with Choice whom he has gotten close with for some time.
Inside a trailer, the two discuss relationships and the complexity that comes with acting with regards to emotions.
A short time later, a huge monster attacks Hardcase in public. The monster tells him: “You’re as egotistical as all the rest. It’ll be a pleasure to send you to your grave.”
As the adventures with the Strangers and the Solution are over, this particular comic book served its purpose well – the further development of the relationship between Hardcase and Choice. The way Hudnall scripted this comic book showed a nice balance between romance, superhero spectacle (note: this comic book is loaded!) and the key element of maturity (with regards to dealing with love from both the past and the present).
With regards to the art, Brent Anderson’s debut with the Hardcase series is pretty solid. I like the gritty touch of the visuals he used on the characters, most notably Hardcase and Choice.
No doubt that this is another solid Hardcase story. I enjoyed this from start to finish (which was emotionally powerful and symbolic). Hardcase #9 marks a new turn in the life of the the title hero.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $7.
If you are looking for original Hardcase #9 art by Brent Anderson, click here.
Overall, Hardcase #9 (1994) is highly recommended!
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