Review: Loose Ends
Writer: Jason Latour
Art: Chris Brunner
Colours: Rico Renzi
Publisher: Image Comics
‘No one seemed to notice Sonny Gibson as he stepped back into ‘The Hideaway,’ a dusty little honky-tonk nestled off the Carolina highway. But before the night was over, Sonny would be on the run-from the law, from criminals, and even from himself.’
For those hoping that Loose Ends, described as a gritty, slow-cooked, Southern thriller, would somewhat side-step the reliance on cliched Southern characters overflowing with spit and spite, prepare to be slightly disappointed but not as much as you’d imagine. Yes, Latour has pebbledashed the series with shit-kickin’ bars, untrustworthy, bent cops, and underdressed simpleton barmaids, however, the same barmaids eventually bare their teeth and introduce a level of sass that would otherwise be missing. See True Romance or Jackie Brown for a reference point.
The tale incorporates a traditional southern motif of a powerful and wealth driven underbelly who quietly control the ebbs and flows of the criminal class in the city, until Sonny drives a wedge in everyone’s plans and becomes embroiled in a game of cat and mouse. The storytelling is pacy and doesn’t get bogged down in backstories, instead keeping flashbacks relevant and sharp. For example, flashbacks to military service go some way to explaining character purpose and opens the door to expected parameters of mental disillusionment. Our protagonists are reasonably likeable and could be memorable if not for the lack of layering; they do come across as a little one dimensional. The bent cops are predictable and the shitkickers in the bar do exactly what shitkickers do. Saying that, there are some charming moments where we hold our breath for the good guys and invest ourselves a little. The plot digressions and diversions allow us to track all the major players concurrently, and thus their relevance becomes clear eventually. It’s not an insidious plot but it takes us by the arm and forces us along as willing captives.
The artwork is pretty darn good. Steamy bar scenes are dripping with excess sweat and stale beer, and the addition of emoticons (no, not the teary, little sad faces, but icons to reveal shock or surprise or bumps n’ bangs) show Brunner’s desire to inject dynamism and a sense of coolness to the proceedings. The work’s realistic approach centers on shading and the pencilling purposefully finds perspectives that allow for darkness to fall in all the right places. Steamy obscurity abounds as faces are out of sight or hidden for maximum effect. Add to this the sudden bursts of psychedelic splendour, characters washing effortlessly into a smoke haze or drunken stupor, and you’ve got a diverse, and dare I say it, fun, look to the book. The lettering blends with this approach and often melts into the frame. Where it’s more traditional, it’s not overbearing and doesn’t detract from the unfolding events.
The book, which collects issues #1-4, maybe doesn’t have the drawn out, wholly brooding plot of say Southern Bastards but comparing the two would be a mistake. This is a much more urban take on Southern life where oxy has been replaced by heroin and familial sheriffs are superseded by angular and devious city detectives. Nor is this just a book for crime fans. This is a tale straight out of any urban setting but given that unique Southern basting that makes this niche so delectable. Give it a try.
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Review written by Arun S.
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