The Last Days of American Crime
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Greg Tocchini
Covers by Alex Maleev
Radical Comics publish this book and while some complain that they are simply a striphouse for failed/prospective movie pitches, there is no doubt that this crime flick would look superb on the big screen. And it looks like it now will with Radical announcing Sam Worthington is going to star in the movie with F. Gary Gray directing it. But before it all goes down on your local screens, it collects really well in this book.
The nasty kicks off straight away as Graeme tortures some poor fool in a dirty bathroom. Tocchini delivers a world where your eyes feel four kinds of filthy just having glanced through the peephole into what happens there. The lines aren’t completely formed and the colours drip off the page like someone slapped a fistful of brown onto the palette. This is a Grindhouse crime comic that feels like a 70s peek into the future.
With only two scenes, Remender has established the way these characters operate within their world. We also see the level of trust anyone in this narrative should have. Through actions we get internal understanding of these players and that’s just good writing.
Motivations of characters can be hard to pin down because they seemingly change constantly. The only reliable knowledge is that these people want to survive, that’s the only information we have for sure. You get the feeling they’d each do absolutely anything to survive and throughout this tale they usually do. Allegiances are paper thin and not worth the alcohol soaked breath they are muttered on.
It’s a feat of strength from the creative team that even with the seesawing affections of these men and women they still remain likeable, well, at least the ones you are supposed to like. Kevin is a dick the whole way through but Shelby becomes an exercise in how much you can hate a girl and yet so completely want to protect her. It’s conflicting and written so very well.
Tocchini’s art ranges from amazing to somewhat underwhelming and it seems to depend on his level of zoom in the panel. The longshots look so gritty and perfect that you understand this world completely but it’s in the close shots the characters lose depth of reality. Tocchini’s faces rarely feel completely formed and it is off-putting in certain circumstances. The structural features are inconsistent and distracting which is a shame because as far as tone goes Tocchini scores an A for this book.
The spiral of bullets and blood that round out this tale provide a delicious ending, even if the very final coda tastes a little too convenient. There’s no doubting the thrills this book is full of on nearly every page. Remender and Tocchini deliver one of the best and most unique crime books to be published in some time. They also deliver a stand out character in Shelby who both looks iconic but captures each and every page she is on.
This collection also assembles the various covers and it must be said that Alex Maleev's work here is brilliant. He evokes the old school pulp paperback covers without being beholden to them. He takes them that next step further in content while keeping the tone in synch. These covers are pure art, no doubt about it.
Verdict – Buy It. The Last Days Of American Crime is the sort of book you won’t regret buying if you like any sort of harsh fiction about the worst kind of people. This book delivers visual violence like you won’t have seen from any other artist and the kinks of the tale will keep you guessing right up until the end. Pick up this book and marvel at the heist of the decade.
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