In HARDCORE: RELOADED #5 LAyla’s plans for revenge near fruition as her use of the Hardcore technology threaten the life of President Stokes. With Agents Drake and Markus on the case, will that be enough to save the President and prevent her demands for blood? You’ll have to read this Major Spoilers review to find out!
HARDCORE: RELOADED #5
Creators: Robert Kirkman & Marc Silvestri
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Francis Portela
Colorist: Leonardo Paciarotti
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Editor: Jon Moisan
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc & Skybound Entertainment
Release Date: June 17th, 2020
Previously in HARDCORE: RELOADED: The Hardcore technology allows operatives to control people from a distance, and jump from person to person in an instant. When an innocent man is accidentally killed by Hardcore operative’s, his sister, Layla, decides to take vengeance on those instrumental in her brother’s death. Now, all the pieces are in place for a gripping finale.
JUMPING JACK FLASH
HARDCORE: RELOADED #5 brings to a close this series’ arc, with Layla having the upper hand and the members of the Hardcore team scrambling to save lives. Agent Drake is in control of the body of Stokes, as he’s had marine training and his body is conditioned for the task at hand. Assisting Drake is the somewhat problematic figure of Agent Markus – but needs must when the devil drives.
There are few likeable people in this entire issue, which I’m fine with. Layla’s motives are understandable – who amongst us wouldn’t harbor a desire for revenge if a loved one is killed needlessly. But her actions are out of control, and the efforts of Agents Drake and Markus to stop her are equally understandable. As President, Stokes is motivated by higher needs, namely the safety of the Republic. All these competing interests crash together in an at times brutal finale to the arc, with a somewhat downbeat ending indicating further future storylines.
Writer Brandon Thomas starts HARDCORE: RELOADED #5 leaping right out of the gate, with the action picking up from where the previous issue left off. For those new to the series, reading this issue can be confusing, as Layla is controlling a couple of people at once, or leaping from body to body. However, clever structuring of panels, with Layla speaking in one, and then the next panel jumps to a character she is controlling completing her sentence. For the most part, Drake and Markus are ciphers in this issue, reduced largely to action figures leaping about. It is President Stokes who presents as the most interesting figure, and indeed, it is doubly rewarding to see two people of color leading the narrative towards its bleak conclusion.
Francis Portela brings his A-game to HARDCORE: RELOADED #5. Not only are we blessed with some distinctive character work, some nice real world visuals (it must be a real pain to have to clothe characters in different outfits, but Portela does it with aplomb) and some very clever panel work (see above) to help convey the story to the reader. The way the final flashback panel morphs into the present, linking Layla at the moment of her most profound grief, with her on the brink of achieving her revenge, is very, very powerful, not too mention clever. He also presents some striking visuals, such as when Layla uses a device on the President that disconnects his body from Drake’s control. The double image that Portela illustrates to convey that event lingers in the memory, as do the after effects. The final panel also conveys strength and intent, as a back in control President Stokes, with his Secret Service detail arrayed behind him, signals his intent in no uncertain words.
BOTTOM LINE: STRONG
HARDCORE: RELOADED #5 is not the place to come in on this series. It picks up at the point the previous issue entered, and wastes no time with catching readers up. What the issue does do is successfully conclude this current arc, and more than sets up what will come next.
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Hardcore: Reloaded #5
A tale of revenge gone awry, with a cast of appealing vicious characters aided by a really intriguing piece of technology. HARDCORE: RELOADED #5 is a crowd pleasing end to a strong series that has plenty of juice left in the tank for many more stories to come.