Review – Hardcore #3 (Image Comics)

Hardcore #3
  • Writing - 6/10
  • Art - 5.5/10
  • Overall - 5.7/10
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Hardcore #3

Writer: Andy Diggle
Artwork: Alessandro Vitti
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Cover Art: Dan Panosian
Editor: Jon Moisan
Maturity Rating: M
Publisher: SkyBound/Image Comics
Release Date: February 27th, 2019

With Hardcore Agent Drake staring down the barrel of the gun and the United States government desperately attempting to recover a missing nuclear warhead, Hardcore pushes ‘pause’ on the action to allow readers to catch their breath.

A Russian Nuke Is Missing In Hardcore #3


Remember Crank with Jason Statham? Good. Now picture that, throw in a few elements of the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix, finish it with a dash of John Woo’s classic Face/Off, and then you’ll have an idea of what the new high-octane mini-series Hardcore is all about. In short, if Michael Bay were a comic book, he’d be Hardcore.


In Hardcore #3 the story picks up with Hardcore Agent Drake still in the underpass and Lupe holding a gun to his head; she knows something is wrong. If Drake is unable to gain her trust, he’ll have no chance of fleeing the country before the ‘control capsule’ in his ( or rather Esteban’s) head disintegrates – leaving Drake permanently brain-dead. To make matters worse, back on home soil the United States government are unable to trace the location of a missing nuclear warhead. And one poor fighter-pilot is about to bring a whole new meaning to the term “friendly fire.”

Hardcore #3 Cover Art by Dan Panosian
Hardcore #3 Cover Art by Dan Panosian

Now my issue with Hardcore isn’t so much a critique as it is a frustration. Admittedly, I am not much of an ‘action guy’. Personal bias aside, it feels like the most interesting aspects of Hardcore are taking a backseat to this “race against the clock”, page-turner motif. I would be much more interested in exploring the ethical implications of the Hardcore program itself: what if we really could take over the human mind? What if you could ‘hack’ a human being? Could we, should we, and to what end could we justify those means? It’s a scary thought when you stop and think about it.

I understand what Hardcore is: a blockbuster style comic book designed to get readers from cover to cover as quickly as possible. It’s unfair of me to try and critique it for something that it’s not trying to be. I know that. All I’m saying is Andy Diggle is a talented dude; I would have liked to have seen him explore the characters and ethical implications a bit more is all. Hardcore has the potential to be more than just the comic book equivalent of a bad action movie if Diggle so chooses. 


Sadly there isn’t much to cling to as far as the art is concerned in this issue – or the series as a whole for that matter. The paneling is very cookie-cutter, with basic rectangles stacked on top of rectangles. Alessandro Vitti’s art seems to possess a kind of Michael Bay dynamic. Yes, it’s cool to draw cool things – who doesn’t like explosions and gunfights? But take those elements away and what you’re left with are very pedestrian looking panels.

Also, the story in this issue paced slowly in comparison, affecting the quality of the art – or rather helping to highlight its misgivings. There is no car chase scene spilling over four pages to keep the reader distracted this time around. There’s more dialogue, more human interaction taking place than we’re used to seeing in Hardcore. Unfortunately, the result overall is a rather stagnant, boring presentation artistically.

While the artwork in this issue wasn’t my favorite, Vitti does have a few beautiful panels hidden throughout. Most notably is one of Lupe, gun drawn on Drake (Esteban) and another, the POTUS at the conclusion of the issue aboard Air Force One. The common element? The eyes. The emotion, fear, and strength that Alessandro Vitti is able to convey through these characters eyes is palpable and deserves recognition. He has the artistic muscle to make this series great, he just needs to flex it a bit more.

P.S. The cover work by Dan Panosian would be a great place for inspiration!


For the first time, this series, Andy Diggle and Alessandro Vitti seem to be spinning their wheels. What started off with a bang now hangs on a whimper, leaving readers to wonder what’s coming next. Hardcore is beginning to show signs of series that burns bright for a brief moment before it supernovas into oblivion. Explosions and gunfights may turn pages but you need substance to build an audience.

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