12.24.2009

12.23.09 Reviews (Part 3)

The Last Days of American Crime #1 (Radical Comics): Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini deliver the first installment of the ultimate crime caper. It’s no surprise that it’s set to be a movie with Sam Worthington, because it has a very cinematic feel to it. I do appreciate that it functions extremely well as a graphic novella though and isn’t just a storyboarded proof of concept used as a film prerequisite. The book is a great value, offering 64 story pages and additional bonus material for just $4.99; keep in mind that that’s double to triple the content for just $1 (about 25%) more than the typically priced book. The noir opening narration draws you right in, but it’s enhanced by the fact that this isn’t just straight noir. There’s a cool futuristic, slightly sci-fi thread to the work, a little bit of Philip K. Dick tossed in for good measure, that’s infinitely more appealing to me than something like the more straight up noir of a title like Criminal. Tocchini’s art bears a slight resemblance to someone like Phil Noto, especially in the facial details like the big open expressive eyes, but is looser in the backgrounds. He employs heavier inks and a nice watercolor paint affect that yields an environment more lived in and crumbling, less sterile, and that suits the tone of the story quite well. His use of shadow adds mystery that obscures intentions. Remender jumps us right into his story en media res, which doesn’t insult readers with expository dialogue, merely expects them to go at the same pace and sort things out. The application of the “American Peace Initiative” is an interesting sociological quandary, a signal eliminating crime and domestic terrorism, but involving a serious invasion of privacy and first amendment rights, not to mention the ethical dilemma it raises. Graham and Shelby’s conversation in the bar is some of the best written, world weary, down-on-your-luck-and-ok-with-it dialogue around. “That walk. Tells the whole story. Every step an instant chapter. It’s own language. On it’s own frequency.” The Last Days of American Crime has exceeded my high expectations; it’s full of raw sex, raw crime, and raw ideas in a raw world. It all ends with one heck of a hook that holds its own with genre fiction contemporaries like Jason Aaron’s Scalped. Grade A.

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