Thanks to Russell Lissau for the review copy!
When I think of a crime story set in Las Vegas, a very specific story pops into my head – a complicated heist run by a criminal (who is really a good guy) and has every contingency planned for. The Hardways is a Vegas crime story, but it is a decidedly different take on the genre.
Three issues in, and it still isn’t entirely clear who we are supposed to be rooting for. Kidnap victim Maury (and his ugly and awesome shirt) is so unlikeable, his own wife refused to ransom him. To be fair, Maury seems like a jerk, but he’s a fun, interesting jerk. Going into this issue, the kidnappers seem about as far from the Oceans 11 crew as you can get. These criminals so far seem to lack the charm that most criminal protagonists are given. The casino manager who the kidnappers turned to squeeze for Maury’s ransom doesn’t seem to be above resorting to some underhanded moves to get out of the situation. The legendary Brandini Sisters (who make a sizable appearance in the issue) certainly seem to be no angels as well. This ambiguity is what makes The Hardways such a fascinating read.
The City of Vegas has served as another character so far, but the casino takes a backseat to some other locations in this issue. The first two issues nailed a lot of Vegas details (I continue to love the title art, which screams Vegas) but this issue largely takes place in the kidnappers’ house. I don’t know if it was done by design, but the panels in the house are drawn in such a way that you kind of feel the walls closing in, which fits the pressure the characters are increasingly feeling.
The Hardways tells a story that seems simple on the surface, but delivers enough twists and turns to leave you wondering what else is under the surface. None of the characters have been given a backstory, which means anything is fair game. I recommend reading the first two issues before trying this one. This issue features some violence, a little bit of blood, and a fair amount of cursing.
THE HARDWAYS #3 is now available on Russell Lissau’s online store, as well as on Shawn Richison’s store, and on the Kindle store at www.amazon.com/Hardways-3-Crooked-Dice-ebook/dp/B09PMNXYMR/
Russell Lissau participated in our weekly Sandbox Spotlight, which you can read here.
Are you going to pick up the issue? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.