Spotlight Review: The Hardways #1-2


With issues #1 and #2 available now on ComiXology digitally, and another three issues to come. There is also a collected edition planned. Here are details on The Hardways as well as my thoughts on the first two issues.

When a high-stakes gambler with a weakness for beautiful women gets kidnapped outside a Vegas casino, will he live long enough to make it to the ransom exchange? If you’re a fan of “Ocean’s 11,” “Suicide Kings,” “Stumptown” or the “Parker” books, you need to pick up THE HARDWAYS.

Written by Russell Lissau
Art by Shawn Richison
Colored by Juan Romera
Lettered by Josh Southall
Writer Russell Lissau ("Old Wounds," "The Batman Strikes") and artist Shawn Richison ("Legend of the Sunset People," "Fisk the S.U.B.S.T.I.T.U.T.E.") are excited to announce the first two issues of their action-packed, comic book mini-series THE HARDWAYS are available on the Comixology digital comics platform. Each issue costs $2.99.
A five-issue, creator-owned series, THE HARDWAYS is about a kidnapping at a Las Vegas casino that goes wrong – not just for the high-rolling victim but also his abductors. Think "Ocean's 11" mixed with "Suicide Kings," with splashes of the vibes from the "Stumptown" and "Parker" graphic novels. It was painstakingly researched by Lissau and Richison and features many real-life Sin City landmarks.

“I love Las Vegas, and not just because I enjoy the sound of dice bouncing on a craps table or the sight of poker chips being pushed my way after a big win,” Lissau said. “I love the restaurants, the swimming pools, the people watching and the history of the city. Heck, that history is a classic crime story on its own.”

In fact, the idea for THE HARDWAYS originated while Lissau was in Las Vegas for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival.

“I was walking through a casino on the Strip and saw a beautiful fountain, and I immediately flashed on a ransom drop happening right at that location,” Lissau said. “From that mental image, the characters and plot of THE HARDWAYS came to life.”

Added Richison: “How many classic crime stories are set in or have an element of Vegas to them? The city is famous for grifters, gangsters and, of course, gamblers. It has that wonderful dichotomy of incredible wealth and beauty (not only the architecture, but also the austere beauty of the desert setting) juxtaposed against a backdrop of grit and danger. It’s just perfect for the story we’ve crafted.”

Lissau and Richison are joined on THE HARDWAYS by letterer Josh Southall and colorist Juan Romera. The four creators have worked with each other in various combinations multiple times through their careers.

“Working with Russell is always a joy, and being able to bring on the talents of Juan Romera for colours and Josh Southall on the lettering really elevates this project. They’ve both brought their ‘A’ game and helped make this book one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with,” Richison said.

THE HARDWAYS also is available directly from the creators at, and in an expanded, 38-page edition that has the script, character designs and other extras. A collected edition is planned for late 2021.

Starting with issue #1…
This is all about the setup. It’s well told with the good luck being followed by some (really) bad luck. I like the take on the dice game. Dice isn’t my thing, although my father has tried to explain it to me. I do prefer cards…
Even so, you really get the feeling of the casino here, with the lucky winner on a really hot streak. I like the build speed here, it’s quite tense as you know something isn’t quite right, and that bad things are going to happen – but you do get to the when…
I like the artwork here, there is especially a nice part with the camera – straight after the kidnapping – it’s well done and a nice piece of setup for the story. There’s still a lot to learn about the characters and their motivations though – let’s see what #2 has in store….

In issue #2 things go rapidly downhill. I like that the only person in control is the kidnap victim! There’s a grim humour here, and I like the women in his life (and associated). The kidnap crew look to be starting to fracture and there are some interesting points for the next issue – a nice hook.

The art throughout is excellent. There are the darker sides to the city, as well as the room where Maury is kept. The lighter sides – in the casino for example – makes a nice change to it all.

We are beginning to get the characters and new ones are being added (I’m sure we’ll learn more about THEM in the next issue) I like the way that things aren’t going to plan, and as such this story keeps you guessing. This is a good looking and fun read, and something I would pick up in single issues and even get the collected edition.

You can get The Hardways digitally on ComiXology.

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