The Hard Goodbye

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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
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 1-59307-293-7

"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 movie.

Publication history[edit]

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[edit]

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

The story begins when Marv is approached by Goldie in Kadie's Bar. They end up sleeping together in a hotel; Marv wakes to find Goldie dead hours later. Sobering up, Marv struggles to remember what happened the previous night. 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[edit]

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 towards the room Marv and the dead Goldie are located in. The police officers are heavily armed, and wear full suits of body armor. Marv takes his medicine as the police knock at the door. Marv bashes the door down, knocking over two cops, and escapes into the hallway. As the police attempt to shoot Marv, he jumps down the gap in the middle of the winding stairs, grabbing a banister and swinging himself into an empty corridor. Marv runs and jumps out the window, landing into a huge pile of stuffed garbage bags. A police car approaches, and Marv jumps onto the hood, breaks the window with a kick, and commandeers the vehicle before driving into the river. Marv swears to avenge Goldie's murder.

Episode Three[edit]

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

Marv, knowing the cops will be waiting for him to re-surface, swims into a giant pipe and surfaces in the sewers. He climbs out through a manhole and sneaks through the city, avoiding cops, until he reaches Lucille, his parole officer's apartment. He breaks in and waits until the wary Lucille finds him. He tells her everything that has happened, while Lucille gives him a fresh supply of medicine. 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. Marv's Mother catches him. She tells him that people were looking for him and Marv starts to tell his Mom what happened.

Episode Four[edit]

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

After leaving his mother's, Marv thinks about how none of it fits together and why anyone would want to kill Goldie while walking down an alley back to Kadie's Bar. He knocks out a bouncer who refuses to let him in and is greeted by Kadie who tells him the bouncer is new (Marv receives free drinks from the bar for protecting the girls there from violence). 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[edit]

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 two hitmen, one with a gun, escort him out of the bar. Marv takes it as a joke, saying one of them has a nice coat, and goes with them into the alley. He then knocks one of them out and steals his gun then shoots the other one's hand. He threatens one for his coat, one called Stan then shoots him in the chest, 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 shrugs it off as a delusion.

Episode Six[edit]

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, punching one to death, drowning another in a toilet, and bashing another's head off by holding his face to the road while driving. Then he goes to church to confess. In the confession stand while confessing to his murders, he threatens The Priest to tell him about the other confessions and whether he knows anything. The priest says "Roark" (referring to Cardinal Roark). Marv doesn't believe him and threatens to kill him. The panicked priest says that he should check out The Farm at North Cross and Lennox. The Priest is now angry, and asks him if "that corpse of a slut" (referring to Goldie) is worth dying for. Marv says, "worth dying for, worth killing for, worth going to hell for," and then kills him, stealing his car keys. He leaves the church saying, "Amen".

Episode Seven[edit]

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

Marv steals the priest's Mercedes 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 gets run over, sending him from the bonnet to the boot of the car. The car then turns round quickly and runs him over again, sending him from the bonnet onto the road, as he repeats 'Goldie?'. The car then runs him over for a third time, sending him flying in the air. The driver shoots him three times and leaves him for dead, as he moans in pain. When Marv recovers, he reasons that it couldn't have been Goldie and takes more medicine while driving away.

Episode Eight[edit]

Published in Dark Horse Presents Issue #57 occurring within an hour after Episode Seven, Part Eight of Thirteen and ten pages long.

Marv leaves the priest's Mercedes in a diner parking lot about two miles from the Farm. He travels through the woods until he reaches it. He is approached by a wolf and Marv tries to calm it down. The wolf bites him and when he hits it, he smells human blood on 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 anyone is there until he sees a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars as he turns around. The man kicks him several times, then scratches at Marv's eyes until he can't see. Marv thinks to himself during the fighting that nobody is that quiet, except the person who sneaked into the hotel room two nights ago. He then realizes the man attacking him killed Goldie. He exclaims, "It was you, you killed Goldie!", just as the man knocks Marv out with a sledgehammer.

Episode Nine[edit]

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.' He now knows the killer's name is Kevin and says 'see you soon Kevin...'.

Episode Ten[edit]

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.

Loud noises echo from The Farm as Marv is trying to ram down the locked steel metal door by ramming into it head first, hurting himself as Lucille watches. After eleven brutal attempts, the door finally breaks. He keeps Lucille close, hearing helicopter rotors above as they run along the premises. Along the way, Marv finds Gladys, his gun. A full squadron of police, including 'The Painted Cop' hop out of the chopper as it lands. Lucille and Marv dive into a nearby bush, out of sight. Marv readies his weapon, Lucille however, disliking the idea of him getting both of them killed, knocks him unconscious with a large rock. She runs over to the squad to explain that they are unarmed. They demand Marv's location before she is brutally shot to death. Marv, enraged, comes at them with a hatchet. Marv takes multiple bullets, but manages to subdue the entire squadron, leaving the chief standing. He states that it's a fine coat he's wearing, before killing him.

Episode Eleven[edit]

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 Roark 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[edit]

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 them 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[edit]

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 gunshots, 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 executioner announces, simply: "He's gone."

Collected edition[edit]

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[edit]

In 2005, this was one of the stories adapted into the film Sin City. Actor Mickey Rourke played the role of Marv to critical acclaim. The segment also starred Jaime King as Goldie/Wendy, Rutger Hauer as Cardinal Roark, and Elijah Wood as Kevin.