Get Your High Concept Sci-Fi Action In Hardcore #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Imagine being able to take over the body of anyone on Earth. Sound crazy? Not for Agent Drake and the Hardcore Program. They can turn any person into a human drone to get to targets that normal soldiers can’t. Drake is the best soldier Hardcore has to offer. But when he gets stranded in a body with only 72 hours to discover who’s hijacked the Program, he’ll have to pull out all the stops against an enemy who could be literally anyone. From the creative minds of Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri, and presented by Andy Diggle (Thief of Thieves, Losers) and Alessandro Vitti (Secret Warriors), comes a new Skybound Original that shows you how to save the world without getting your hands dirty.

In 1978, the US Army established a secret unit known as the Stargate Project. Their mission was to investigate military potential of a psychic phenomenon known as remote viewing, which uses ESP to allow the “viewer” to witness events happening elsewhere, without detection. If the power of RV could be proven and harnessed, the intelligence possibilities would have been endless. Sounds a little off the wall, but, believe it or not, Stargate was only shut down in 1995.

Hardcore #1 takes the idea a few steps further, with the addition of futuristic tech that allows agents to not only see through the eyes of a remote human subject, but to assume complete control of their bodies as well. With the physical control, now agents can be highly effective assassins, provided the subject they’ve been assigned has a minimal level of physical ability. If the subject were, say, a morbidly obese drunk, as in this opening chapter, the best operator in the world might find issue getting the jump on their target, proximity or no. The other limitation, and this is important for later, there’s an expiry date by which the operator needs to sever the connection, or have their brain turn into oatmeal. 72 hours. Get in, get wet, get out.

Andy Diggle presents a great sci-fi action script in this series opener. There’s not a whole lot we know yet about the principals, but there’s a pretty decent lay rundown on how the program works and what the limitations are. Diggle drops us right in the middle of a chaotic scenario and provides just enough exposition to get a nibble, then gives a good sharp tug to set the hook.
Alessandro Vitti’s bold linework plays well into both the science fiction and action elements. Cinematic action sequences are quick and brutal. Character designs fall into a few predictable tropes, but are distinct and memorable. Color by Adriano Lucas lends a throwback feel to Vitti’s inks, calling back to some of my favorites from the early nineties.

Hardcore is an interesting and well-executed concept that explores the morality and subversion of technology that is playing an ever increasing role in warfare and intelligence. It’s a little bit like a murdery Avatar, with some Dark World, Men Who Stare at Goats, and Being John Malkovitch thrown in for good measure.

Hardcore #1, Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment, released 19 December 2018. Created by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri, story by Robert Kirkman and Andy Diggle, script by Andy Diggle, art by Alessandro Vitti, color by Adriano Lucas, letters by Thomas Mauer, cover by Dan Panosian.

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