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The Stand: Hardcases issue 4

Book Cover

Harold becomes the focus of this issue as it is revealed that a lot of the people in Abigail's camp are uncomfortable with him. Judging by the facial expressions he makes, you can't really blame them. It gets to the point where even Leo refuses to go into his house when Larry goes to introduce himself.

Fran and Stu discuss him and Fran notes how he's changed since the outbreak. I can't say I care for Fran's analogy. There's a huge difference between having your life changed by religion and having your life changed by reading "Mein Kampf". Saying stuff like that makes you sound like an ass. Stu isn't the most spiritual guy, but he would have been justified in smacking her upside the head for that just on principle.

Her method of deduction also left quite a bit to be desired. Yeah, she turned out to be correct, but that was a bit of a stretch. It comes off more like coincidence than mad detective skills.

The focus shifts to the committee as they start to get the ball rolling. A lot of the decisions are unanimous, but they were minor things that seemed like they were done for formality's sake than anything else and it isn't long before their attention turns to Flagg.

It's a little weird how the committee decides to ignore the religious and spiritual implications of what's happening. In any other circumstance, you could justify it, but with this it seems like a weird form of denial. They do give themselves a back door of sorts as they decide to leave all that up to Abigail.

Of course, as they don't know what Flagg is or what he's up to, they decide to send some spies in to do some recon. It's an interesting mix, but it is a risky venture regardless of who is sent and they try to pick people who Flagg wouldn't suspect.

Odd as it may sound, the real highlight of the issue is the final pages. Not because I was looking forward to it ending, but because we have a rather intense confrontation between Flagg (who has taken on the shape of a wolf) and Abigail. While her faith perseveres, she does come to the conclusion that she's been proud and decides to leave. This will, no doubt, prove to be a problem when the committee needs to start discussing spiritual matters.

This issue flowed well and moved the plot along, but it probably is the weakest issue of this series. It isn't bad, but it doesn't bring as much as previous issues did. The artwork was also a bit wonky, notably when drawing Harold's face. I get that they were trying to make Harold's face look off putting, but even taking that into account, I wasn't all that crazy about the way that they drew him.

There's only one issue left and, seeing as we're all pretty familiar with the plot, I think it's safe to say that the series is going to end...with a bang.

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