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The Stand: Hardcases issue 2

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With this issue, Trashcan man is officially brought into Flagg's group. I was always under the impression that the others were put off by Trash's mannerisms, but here, they welcome him with open arms. He gets introduced to the crew and they even have a rather pleasant breakfast together.

It was a really good scene, to be honest. While they're villains, no question, they have such a great camaraderie together. They bust each other's chops and are pretty content with their situation. I didn't really get the whole "Mr. High" thing. They all laugh, but I don't see where the punch line is. It's an inside joke and I guess the writers wanted to put the reader in the same situation as Trash, in that we don't know what the joke means, but some explanation via narration would have been nice.

The levity in this scene also helps set up a rather dark scene later on when one of the guys gets crucified because of his drug use. You'd think that Flagg would want to encourage people to indulge in their vices and push the hedonism angle, but apparently he runs a really tight ship.

It's another really effective scene as not only is the guy brutally murdered, but by his own friends. The camaraderie I alluded to earlier makes this scene that much more gruesome to watch.

Fortunately, any potential mood whiplash is avoided by scenes where we cut to Abigail's camp that act as something of a buffer. The focus is on Larry and his relationship woes, but it does help to set up some characterization on Nadine as we get her back story and a glimpse into her relationship with Flagg.

This was a pretty strong issue. It effectively ran the emotional gamut, going from charming to horrifying and it did it smoothly, which is not an easy feat with such extreme emotions. It was well structured as later scenes are made more powerful and unnerving as a result of seeing how things were mere pages ago. Some of it is set up for future things but that's understandable and the issue actually does stand rather well on it's own. All in all, it was a solid read.

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