This arrived back on New Year’s Eve when I was setting things up for a party at my place. After all of the setup had been taken care of and people had yet to arrive, I started reading this to occupy myself until people arrived. I wasn’t expecting to be that involved with it, as people could be showing up at any time, but I actually wound up getting more involved in the latest adventure of Conrad “Redmond” Paulson and his family than I was expecting. Though “Venice” left the man in jail at its conclusion, he finds his way out of it soon enough. Problem is, his old partner Arno and cartel lord Lola still want him working for them. They figure the best way to do that is by removing the one thing Conrad lives for: his family. What they don’t realize is that Conrad has always been the smartest man in the room and that he’s plans of his own in motion.
“The Hit List” is the first volume of the series to be written without the involvement of creator Robert Kirkman in the story. Fortunately, Andy Diggle takes over full writing duties and the end product is as slick and efficient a piece of action and suspense as you’d expect from the man who gave us “The Losers.” Regular artist Shawn Martinbrough is still onboard, making the visuals as easy to follow and appealing as always. The biggest problem with this volume is that most of its twists, including its biggest one, are incredibly easy to see coming. If you’ve got any familiarity with how heist stories work (or have been paying enough attention to how the first three volumes have played out) then you’ll be as ahead of the game as Conrad is here. Fortunately, Diggle makes the mechanics of the twists interesting to see unfold and offers plenty of sharp dialogue to keep the reader invested. The writer also manages to make Conrad’s son Augustus significantly less annoying than usual, which is an impressive achievement in itself.
Though the volume ends with an appropriate level of closure, the final page indicates that the story is “To Be Continued…” That’s interesting because it would seem that the arc started in the first volume has reached its end with the events of the first volume. In retrospect, it now seems a bit odd for the series to start the way it did, as the events of these four volumes seem to make up an epic endgame story as Conrad finally gets out of the game… except we know that’s not going to be the case. The series is called “Thief of Thieves” after all. I expect the next story to offer an explanation as to why Conrad is still pulling off heists even after he got what he always wanted. I’m also expecting the answer to be pretty satisfying after seeing how this volume turned out.