Lately, Image Comics seems very into the Dirty South; they’ve been cranking out the gritty, dusty, Southern Gothic tales left and right with a vengeance. And I’m here for that 100%, especially if it’s a good old-fashioned lovers-on-the-run-plus-guns type of story. The latest of these high-quality offerings is the Jason Latour-penned/Chris Brunner-illustrated crime story Loose Ends, which moseys its way onto store shelves January 25.
As the book’s title suggests, Sonny Gibson has some old affairs to settle the night he wanders into Bobbi’s Hideaway, a Carolina dive where his old flame Kim works tending bar. Unfortunately back-road honky-tonks characteristically attract some shady mofos, and Sonny finds himself crossing more than mere paths with a couple. Chaos ensues in the bar thanks to the local yokels and, with barmaid Cheri in tow, Sonny suddenly finds himself on the lam.
That’s the plot of Loose Ends #1 in a nutshell, and I feel it would be a disservice to tell you much more than that (and trust me, there is MUCH more). It sounds like the stuff of countless other crime stories you’ve read, but with a delivery and kinetic energy that sets it apart from the pack. Latour (Southern Bastards, sporting his writer hat this time around) takes great pains to give only the smallest, most meaningful hints at the backstory; a couple of interspersed vignettes introduce new characters with minimal explanation–even by way of inference–which can occasionally seem like the eponymous loose ends are being left for the reader, but naturally it wouldn’t be a premiere issue without a few mysteries left open for resolution. Besides, it wouldn’t be a proper Southern tale without a sleepy, slow-burning kickoff issue, now would it?
Visually, this book is a stunner (and what rhymes with “stunner”? Chris Brunner!). Brunner’s eye for detail brings the raw sincerity of Latour’s characters to life in a way that makes you forget you’re reading rather than watching a film. Add the lurid vibration of Rico Renzi’s colors, and the world of Sonny Gibson comes screaming to life, lending a neon, psychedelic feel to Latour’s seedy, sultry love story.
Loose Ends is a spunky crime-romance caper that, on the surface, may sound like many that have come before it, yet somehow it retains a certain freshness and an earnest grit all its own. Most definitely worth checking out for those who prefer romantic stories with an occasional right to the jaw.