By Jason Latour, Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi
Hot damn! If you liked the hit series Southern Bastards and you’re a fan of crime genre comics, novels, films and TV, then drop everything and check out this new one from Image. This book sets out to break the mold and reinvent the genre while preserving the things that make hardboiled stories so good in the first place.
Loose Ends is a rough and tumble, grit-chewing comic book with cinematic qualities worthy of the finest aspects of a neo noir hit. Panel by panel, readers are dragged around, as if being grabbed by the back of the collar and forced to watch as the drama unfolds. Taking place seemingly in or around Charlotte, NC, it’s a bunch of street-level gut punches collected in a poetic manner that makes this an ultimate pulp experience. It ain’t nice and it ain’t pretty, but it’s a beautiful work of art with attitude enough to fill up the gas tanks in order to do a few hundred more donuts around your head.
Containing elements of a Southern Gothic, issue #1 comes across as a class-based story of crime and corruption. The story, as written by creator Jason Latour, is one of heavy consequences suggesting each and every character has a history. A history with each other and with the world they seem afflicted by, whether by choice or proximity. Panels and some times whole pages often rely on movement and actions that are explained in visuals instead of words. In fact, the amount of dialogue is expertly pruned down to its essence without skimping on plot. It’s intense and artful all at once making this a sure bet as a breakout series.
Artist Chris Brunner pulls off some of the most creative and stylish panel arrangements around. He takes the time to enhance the scene by designing layouts and grids that frame the moment so appropriately you have stop and take it in. Jarring images of ferocious violence and their mortal consequences, are rendered so interestingly, that the artistry alone takes the edge off if only for a moment. Undeniably crafted and thoughtfully arranged panels curate your emotions and train your senses to detect critical peaks in the storytelling. Loose Ends by nature is a wild ride that leaves a lasting impression and an increasing realization of its originality.
Colorist Rico Renzi smacks readers around in his own way, shifting from granular, monochromatic effects to razor sharp saturation. Soft, fuzzy blues and greys provide a false sense of calm while supporting the narrative. Then, when things become explosive, Renzi only adds to the chaos with deep reds and yellows juxtaposed with sickly greens and smoke stained browns. This is one of those rare situations where the colors actually provide a kind of soundtrack, cuing your emotional reaction at just the right moment.
Loose ends is an experience that lets you know what it’s like to be there yourself. The environment is as claustrophobic as the atmosphere, and it’s just a matter of time before everyone on the premises is affected in one sour way or another. And it’s all perfectly appropriate. Loose Ends #1 is a triumph of comic book professionalism with genuine artistic authority. Well worth the cover price and offered in an ideal four issue format. Apparently it’s been a long time in the making, folks, but this is gonna be a good one.