By Daniel Vlasaty
If you’ve read any of my other reviews you know that I’ve been really enjoying Loose Ends. You also know that I’ve got a soft spot for drugs and junkie stories, and more importantly crime fiction. And this book checks off both of those categories. Loose Ends is billed as a Southern Crime Romance, and luckily for me the crime part of that tag line is the thing that sticks out most. Not that I have anything against romance, really, I’d just rather read some hard-boiled crime shit.
And that’s what this book is. It’s a hard-boiled story of drug-runners and (possibly) crooked cops and murder. It seems to get harder and more gritty and dirtier with each issue. But, even though it’s not as prominent in the story, I can see the romance part of it too. I can see the romance growing between Sonny and Cheri, through all the shit they’re dealing with. It’s a fleeting kind of romance, I’d guess. One that can’t last after the excitement and the chase and the danger of their current predicament is over.
The first half of this issue kind of plays out like a fever dream. It reminded me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Sonny and Cheri are still kind of on the run, but they’re also still going about finishing Sonny’s job of the drug run to Florida. They get wasted and high and go on a shopping spree and Cheri changes her hair and they buy nice and new clothes and hit Miami for a night out. There’s also a visit to a tattoo shop, but we haven’t been shown what came of that yet. While their out partying, Sonny is also planning a meet up with Reggie, presumably to deliver the goods to him. Although Sonny doesn’t have any idea that Reggie’s strings are being pulled by two coppers.
This leads to a confrontation that I’m sure will bring us into an explosive and violent next (and final) issue.
The rest of the issues is flashbacks to the time when Sonny and Reggie were in the Army. It’s their origin story and give us a bit more information into their minds and the reasons they seem to do the things they do.
Latour’s writing is sharp and confident. It is laid out bare in front of us but nothing is as it seems. There are old wounds getting reopened and new ones that’ll never be allowed to heal. Latour writes in a way that expects things from the reader. He is giving us all the pieces we need but he keeps flipping things around and blurring them together that it becomes twisty and convoluted, and not in a bad way. This story has the feel of a flashier Coen Brothers movie. Where we’re left at the end of issue 3 it would be easy for Loose Ends to end in an anti-climactic cliché, but I can’t imagine that happening. I am excited to see where Latour takes us into the conclusion. I have a feeling it won’t be an expected ending.
(As I said in one of my previous Loose Ends reviews, I am aware that this is a reissue of a book that came out in 2011, but I never read it back then, so it’s all new to me).
My favorite thing about the art is the way Brunner ignores panel walls. I love how the pages flow together and into each other. The pages are cluttered and it’s almost like the panels are only suggestions, as the characters and scenery blend and cross and go wherever they please. It gives the book a drugged-out, boozy feel. Add Renzi’s psychedelic colors and your left with a trippy, stylish book that is like nothing else out there right now. It feels fresh and dirty at the same time. The colors seem to play up the moods of each page/panel and the art gets more and more scratchy and chaotic as the book races forward.
And that’s what Loose Ends feels like to me. A race. A hectic and messy race. But one that’s not going to have a finish line any one wants to cross. Because in this type of life a finish line can only mean one of two things – prison or death.
Loose Ends is a lot of things. It’s a crime story. It’s a junkie story. It’s a love story. It’s the story of friendships and double crosses and the rush of chasing a fast payday. It’s a great book that feels destined for a dark and gritty film adaptation. It’s quite possible the best book on the shelves right now and definitely worth checking out if you’re tired of the same old stuff.
Loose Ends #3