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"The Hard Goodbye"

Cover of the first edition of the trade paperback collected edition of "The Hard Goodbye"
Publisher Dark Horse Presents
Publication date April 1991 – May 1992
Genre Crime
Title(s) Dark Horse Presents #51-62
Dark Horse Presents: Fifth Anniversary Special
Main character(s) Marv
Goldie and Wendy
Cardinal Roark
Creative team
Writer(s) Frank Miller
Artist(s) Frank Miller
Letterer(s) Frank Miller
Editor(s) Randy Stradley
Collected editions
The Hard Goodbye ISBN 1593072937

"The Hard Goodbye" is the first Sin City story. It was serialised, as "Sin City," in the comics anthology Dark Horse Presents by Dark Horse Comics and named "The Hard Goodbye" in the trade paperbacks. It was created by Frank Miller, and led to a metaseries that has been adapted into a number of films.


Publication history

The comic was first published as "Sin City" in Dark Horse Presents: 5th Anniversary Special (April 1991) and then in the continuing series Dark Horse Presents issues #51-62 and 5th Anniversary Special (June 1991–June 1992) and was written, drawn and lettered by Frank Miller.

The original issues were edited by Randy Stradley, and Diana Schutz is editor of the 2005 collected edition.


Episode One

Published in Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special and the debut of the Sin City series appeared with part one of thirteen in The Hard Goodbye and only eight pages long.

The Story starts when Marv is approached by Goldie in a saloon. They end up sleeping together in a hotel, but three hours later, Marv wakes to find Goldie dead. He gets ready and tries to remember what had happened that night when he was drunk. The next thing he hears are the police sirens which leads him to believe that someone else also knows about the death of Goldie.

Episode Two

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #51 occurring only a minute after Episode One and Part Two of Thirteen and 12 pages long.

The Police are running up the stairs to the room Marv and Goldie's dead body is in. Though the cops are more like SWAT with body armour and shields, they only use them because of Basin City's high crime rate. He takes his medicine and the Police knock at the door, he bashes the door down knocking over about 2 cops and as they are attempting to shoot him he jumps down the gap in the middle of the winding stairs then grabs a banister and swings himself onto that corridor then runs until jumping out the window. Luckily he lands into a huge pile of filled garbage bags but a cop car is approaching and Marv jumps onto the hood, breaks the window with a kick, gets the cops out the car and drives it away, he drives it into the river and gets out, left swimming in the river, while doing this he decides to kill Goldie's murderer.

Episode Three

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #52 occurring seconds after Episode Two and also Part Three of Thirteen and 15 pages long.

"This isn't some bar room brawl or some creep with a gas can looking to torch some wino. This is big and I'm right in the middle of it and there's no place I'd rather be."

"Settle Down, Marv. Take another pill."
"There's no settling down. It's going to be blood for blood and by the gallons. It's the old days. The bad days. The all-or-nothing days. They're back. There's no choices left and I'm ready for war."

Marv knows the cops will be waiting for him to re-surface so swims into a giant pipe and surfaces in the sewers, climbs out via manhole and sneaks through the city, avoiding cops, until he reaches Lucille's apartment. She is only wearing panties as she has been in bed but Marv breaking in through the window woken her up, she has her gun in case it was a burglar but then realises it was Marv, he tells her everything that happened mainly and gets angry when she says it's just very small he then shouts at her telling her its very big and he's in the middle of it. However, she doesn't believe him because he is known for his delusions. Marv then tells her what he's going to do before running out to his Mom's house to get Gladys, his first gun, named after the toughest nun at his school, but his Mother catches him. She tells him that people were looking for him and Marv starts to tell his Mom what happened.

Episode Four

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #53 occurring probably the same night as Episode Three, Part Four of Thirteen and eight pages long.

He's thinking about how none of it fits together and why anyone would kill Goldie, he walks down a back alley and is confronted by someone who is not letting him in this place so he knocks him out and is greeted by Kadie who says that he is new. He enters Kadie's Bar, where he receives free drinks. Nancy Callahan is dancing and he finds Weevil, and threatens him into spreading the word that Marv has been hanging around bars mourning Goldie's death and gives him cash for it. He is then offered a drink by Shellie.

Episode Five

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #54 occurring five or ten minutes after the end of Episode Four, Part Five of Thirteen and nine pages long.

Marv watches Nancy Callahan dance and then some one puts a gun behind his back, it's two hit-men but Marv takes it as a joke saying he has a nice coat as they put the gun up to him and make him exit the bar. He whacks one of them into a wall and steals his gun then shoots the other one's hand. He threatens one for his coat, one called Stan then shoots his stomach or breast and asks him who sent them because he knows they didn't kill Goldie. Marv has to resort to also blowing the man's testicles off before he admits that Telly Stern sent them. Marv then shoots him through the head, killing him. He thinks he sees Goldie but it's just because he hasn't taken his medicine, without it he gets confused.

Episode Six

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #55 occurring the same night or early the next morning after Episode Five, Part Six of Thirteen and eight pages long.

Marv tries to sleep but he can't so he decides to follow up his leads and while trying to get information kills three people, punches one to death, drowns one in a toilet and bashes the other's head off the road while driving. Then he goes to church to confess, in the confession stand he confesses about his murders and threatens The Priest to tell him about the other confessions and if he knows anything. The priest says "Roark" (referring to Cardinal Roark but Marv doesn't believe him) and The Priest tells him that if he doesn't believe he should check out The Farm at North cross and Lennox. The Priest is now angry and asks him if the corpse of a slut (referring to Goldie) is worth dying for. Marv shoots him and says 'Worth Dying For', shoots him again and says 'Worth killing for' and after the last shot says he says 'Worth going to hell for' then after he is sure The Priest is dead says 'Amen.'

Episode Seven

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #56 occurring two to five minutes after Episode Six, Part Seven of Thirteen and eight pages long.

Marv has stolen The Priest's Mercedes keys and he walks out the church but as he is opening the car door, he hears a loud approaching car and pulls out his gun but then hesitates when he thinks it's Goldie and then gets ran over, sending him from the bonnet to the boot of the car, the car turns round quickly and runs him over again, sending him from the bonnet onto the road, as he repeats 'Goldie?' and then runs him over for a third time sending him flying in the air and the person in the car shoots him three times as he moans in pain and leaves him for dead. Two minutes later, after Marv recovers, he realized it wasn't Goldie but just that he got confused again, so he takes his medicine.

Episode Eight

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #57 occurring anywhere between ten to sixty minutes (depending on how far away North Cross and Lennox is from the Church and how fast Marv was going) after Episode Seven, Part Eight of Thirteen and ten pages long.

Marv tells us that he has left The Priest's Mercedes in a Diner parking lot about two miles from The Farm. He travels through the woods until he reaches 'The Farm' where he can tell is a bad place, where people have died. He is approached by a wolf and Marv tries to calm it down but the wolf bites him and he hits it and smells blood in its breath which makes him wonder who its owner is. He then tries to see what's buried as a man approaches behind him he finds a bone and a high heel shoe but still doesn't know there's no-one there until he sees a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars as he turns around the man kicks him then whacks him off a fence, and kicks him again then his hands go numb and then the man scratches Marv's eyes until he can't see. He thinks to himself that nobody is that quiet except the person who sneaked into the hotel room two nights ago then he realizes he killed Goldie and exclaims 'It was you, YOU killed Goldie!', just as The man knocks Marv out with a sledgehammer.

Episode Nine

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #58 occurring a few hours, possibly, after Episode Eight, Part Nine of Thirteen and eight pages long.

Marv is lying somewhere, and at first thinks he has died, as he sees a bright white light. After diving toward the light, he finds himself lying on the floor of some sort of tiled jail. Upon opening his eyes, the first thing he sees is a rose, a tattoo on someone's face, and realizes it is a disembodied head, pinned on a wall along with many more. Then he sees a naked Lucille curled up in the corner, in shock. She keeps on saying that "he" eats people and gives the wolf the scraps. She continues about how he cooks them, and then tells Marv that "he" severed her arm and ate it right in front of her, making her watch. Marv keeps her warm by putting his coat over her. She screams and cries before telling Marv that Goldie is a high-class hooker. Lucille gives details about what happened to her and then Marv, at the bars on of the walls, where he can see outside, hears a V-8 pull up and hears 'Come quick, Kevin.' So he knows the killer's name is Kevin and says 'see you soon Kevin...'.

Episode Ten

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #59 occurring a few seconds or minutes after Episode Nine, Part Ten of Thirteen and twenty-one pages long.

There are loud noises coming from The Farm as Marv is trying to ram down the locked steel metal door by running at it, head first, hurting himself as Lucille watches. After about the tenth try, he almost does it and then on the next he does. He keeps Lucille close and they hear helicopter wings and as they run along the farm, Marv finds Gladys, his gun and Police get out of the chopper, including 'The Painted Cop'. Lucille and Marv hide in a bush, out of sight. Marv gets his gun out and readies to shoot at them, but Lucille doesn't want both of them to get killed so she hits him over the head with a rock and runs over to the cops and tells them not to shoot him. They ask her where he is and then shoot her. Marv then gets very angry and comes at them with a hatchet he found, on The Farm. Then no-one can find Marv and he beats them all up, getting shot in the process. Then tells The Painted Cop, who is the leader and tells him it's a fine coat he's wearing (like he did to Stan before killing him).

Episode Eleven

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #60 occurring the same night or the morning or day after Episode Ten, Part Eleven of Thirteen and twelve pages long.

Marv is walking along a bridge working out that it was Roark because even the cop said it was and he realizes that Goldie was just looking for someone who could protect her because she knew someone was coming for her and she found Marv. He knows he might have to die for her, and he doesn't care. But first he needs to find out the connection between Goldie, Cardinal Roark and Kevin, then he'll know what to do. Then he begins to talk about Cardinal Roark, or by his full name Patrick Henry Roark and tells us that The Roark Family has owned Sin City for a long time and their money has grown from millions to billions. He is at a statue of Cardinal Roarke as he is thinking that Roark is the most powerful man in the state and how ironic it is that he's going to get killed just over some dead hooker as Marv shoots the giant stone statue in the middle of the head. He then suddenly wonders if he's wrong, sometimes he gets confused and wonder's if that's it and with Lucille dead, he can't get his medicine. He then wonders if he's turned into a maniac, a psycho killer. He then knows that he's got to know for sure. Five to ten minutes later he's in Old Town, asking around for Goldie. Then someone shoots him and he looks to see who it is, thinks it's Goldie again, and is shot once more, falling to the floor unconscious.

Episode Twelve

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #61 occurring five to sixty minutes after Episode Eleven, Part Twelve of Thirteen and eight pages long.

Marv wakes up strapped to a chair and sees who he believes to be Goldie and thinks he's dreaming so he's saying to her that he is probably lying in a gutter talking to himself. Then the woman pistol-whips him, he then realizes more girls are around him, The Girls of Old Town, one of the says 'Hit him harder, Wendy'. Marv laughs the strikes off and tells her how to pistol-whip correctly, then asking why she was called Wendy and she says that it's her name, AND that Goldie was her twin sister. Then Wendy asks Marv what happened to her and the other six girls (who were killed by Kevin.) And Marv says that no-one would go near an ugly mug like his, he continues elaborating by saying he was supposed to protect Goldie but failed because he was too drunk, and that he's been killing his way to the truth ever since. The four girls realize they were wrong and Marv breaks out of the ropes with ease. He sat there and took it so he could talk some sense into them.

Episode Thirteen

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #62, occurring five to sixty minutes after Episode Twelve, the final part, the last episode in The Hard Goodbye series and forty-eight pages long.

In a room that The Old Town Girls gave him, Marv is thinking about fear, and about dying. He throws up a couple of times, then gets his coat, Gladys (his gun) and the hatchet from the farm. Gail gives him a pair of handcuffs. In the car with Wendy, he keeps on reminding himself that she's not Goldie. Wendy is speeding with the same car she previously drove over Marv. As they drive, Wendy informs Marv that Goldie and the other dead girls worked the clergy, giving Marv a huge piece of the puzzle as to how Goldie and Roark are connected. After a night sleeping in the same room, Marv keeps getting confused, thinking she's Goldie. They buy rubber tubing, gas, a saw, razor wire and gloves. They stop the car near The Farm and Marv makes Wendy stay at the car. He stretches the razor wire out with the gloves, primes a petrol bomb, and throws it through a window to flush out Kevin. Marv then catches his attention with some gun-shots, and watches Kevin run toward the razor wire and clear it as he puts one cuff of the hand-cuffs on and gets his hatchet in his other hand. They fight, Marv losing his hatchet. He continues to fight on, kicking and punching. He gets close, but Kevin again scratches his eyes out. With his eyes scratched up, Marv manages to put the free cuff on Kevin's wrist. After he gets a kick, Marv punches Kevin and knocks him out. Wendy is behind him; he tells her to go, but she wants to kill him. Marv knocks her out and takes her back to the car, which was hard for him as he doesn't like to hurt women.

"Half an hour later." Marv sits looking at Kevin, whose legs and arms he's cut off. He feeds the rest of Kevin to the wolf, and then saws off Kevin's head. Marv is surprised because Kevin never made a sound, just staring and smiling. Marv takes Wendy to Nancy Callahan and tells Nancy to take Wendy out of town, fearing that Wendy will be killed. He reaches Cardinal Roark's mansion. He enters via the main gates where he kills Corporal Rivera and others until he reaches Roark's room. Roark tells him Kevin had the voice of angels and eating people gave him religious satisfaction, saying that Kevin felt the touch of God as he did. He knew the police were looking for the killers and he murdered Goldie so they'd think it was Marv. Knowing why Marv came, he asks if killing a defenseless old man will make him feel any better. Marv has to admit that it will not... but "everything up to the killing is gonna be a gas." He kills Roark slowly, in a gruesome fashion, and when the police see him he gets rinsed with sub-machine gun fire. He comes to on the operating table and is disappointed the cops didn't shoot his head, "and enough times to make sure." He is charged with all of the murders he committed and framed for those he didn't (The Girls of Old Town.) He is beaten for a confession and told by an attorney that, without a confession, they'll kill his mother. Marv signs the confession, breaking the attorney's arm in three places in the process. They decide to execute him via electric chair. In prison his only visitor is Wendy, who pretends she's Goldie and kisses Marv.

"Eighteen months later." Marv is in the electric chair, and interrupts a priestly benediction with "I ain't got all night!" Juicer pulls the switch. The first surge of the electric chair does not kill Marv; after the surge, he utters his last words, "Is that the best you can do, you pansies?" After the second surge, the executor says, simply: "He's gone."

Collected edition

It was collected as a trade paper-back named Sin City in 1992, and then subtitled The Hard Goodbye in January 1993 featuring several different cover designs over its multiple printings/titles. The series was reprinted in smaller sized digest-trades to tie-into the film, with covers designed by Chip Kidd.


The story has received a number of awards:

  • 1992:[1]
    • Nominated for "Best Single Issue or Story" Eisner Award
    • Frank Miller was nominated for "Best Writer/Artist or Writer/Artist Team" Eisner Award, for Sin City
    • Frank Miller was nominated for "Best Artist" Eisner Award, for Sin City
  • 1993:[2]
    • Won "Best Graphic Album: Reprint (Modern Material)" Eisner Award
    • Frank Miller won "Best Penciller/Inker, Black & White Publication" Eisner Award, for Sin City
    • Frank Miller won "Best Writer/Artist" Eisner Award, for Sin City
    • Nominated for "Best Serialized Story" Eisner Award, for Dark Horse Presents #58-62
    • Frank Miller was nominated for "Best Writer" Eisner Award, for Sin City

Cinematic adaptation

In 2005, this was one of the stories adapted into the film Sin City. Actor Mickey Rourke played the role of Marv to great effect and critical acclaim.



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