The Hardcore program has been compromised, leaving its top operative stranded in another country, his mind trapped in the body of one of America’s most wanted. Now he has 72 hours to escape hostile territory, with no allies—only a Lamborghini and a license to kill! Kill! Kill!
Heading into Hardcore #2, rogue former agent Markus is in control of the Hardcore program. Drake’s body is alive and safe, for the moment. Drake has the option of severing the psychic link at any time, but the moment he does, Markus will likely kill him. He’s said as much already. The only other option he has is to get his host body to the secret bunker to draw Markus out and kill him first.
The body Drake is currently occupying is that of Col. Esteban Montenegro, who’s bedding his boss General Vasquez’ wife, Lupe. In order to have any shot whatsoever of making it back stateside in time to avoid brain death, he’ll have to fight his way out of a trap set by Vasquez and convince Lupe to play along. That 72 hour expiry date means this thing clips right along, and it’s none too light on action.
There are a lot of moving pieces in this chapter. One of the more interesting obstacles Andy Diggle throws at Drake is that Markus has a first person live feed of everything he says and does. The odds are already stacked against the guy, with the justifiably livid general, the jilted lover, and the maniac back home trying end his corporeal existence. Now, we realize there’s no way for Drake to make a move without Markus seeing exactly what he’s up to, in real time.
Alessandro Vitti has a cinematic style which sells Diggle’s script here beautifully. This chapter is essentially a long, deadly car chase, and Vitti utilizes frenetic linework and a series of smash cuts to achieve a sense of frenzied, desperate movement.
Hardcore has a hell of a lot of potential, which is why Image gave it a second go in the first place. With only three chapters left, there’s no chance this thing will slow down, and the twists keep coming.
Hardcore #2, Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment, released 23 January 2019. Script by Andy Diggle, art by Alessandro Vitti, color by Adriano Lucas, letters by Thomas Mauer, cover by Dan Panosian.