Friday, 5 May 2017

Loose Ends Review (Jason Latour, Chris Brunner)


The first issue of the four-part miniseries Loose Ends was published in 2007 and the fourth issue was finally published this week, ten years later! Was it worth the wait? Sorta… 

Billed as a “Southern crime romance”, Loose Ends is about a drug runner and a waitress who hit the road ahead of gangsters the drug runner ripped off who want them dead.

Because the story came together over such long intervals in between issues, you can see Jason Latour change as a writer. Weirdly though, he starts off good and gets worse as the story progresses instead of the other way around! 

The first issue is great. You get a strong sense of life in a dead-end small Southern town, the dive bar and its clientele - it’s like Latour foreshadowing his later, better work with Jason Aaron on their similarly-themed series, Southern Bastards. The issue sets up a potentially exciting storyline well, throwing in a couple of shockingly violent scenes too. 

Then the second issue, published some time later, is ok but a bit meandering and feels like it doesn’t know where to go after such a solid, explosive opener. The third issue, published some more time later, is better, building on the drug-running storyline more, and then the fourth and final chapter, published years later, is a crapshoot - rushed, messy, barely coherent. It’s like it was written by a completely different writer from the first issue, which, in a way, it was, considering Jason Latour’s success with Marvel and Image in the intervening years. 

The problem is that the storyline is too vague. Something about drug-smuggling which hearkens back to the Second Gulf War, our main character’s ripped off some gangsters, his army buddy is being forced to bring him in, and some nutter is just being a crazy nutter. The girl, despite being on all the covers, is incidental - it’s not really clear why she threw her lot in with the guy. Why not, I guess? It’s not the most compelling plot and not at all a convincing romance. 

The characters are equally underwritten. Sonny is a dirtbag but he’s apparently the hero we’re meant to care about for some reason while the girl - whose name I had to look up, she was so unmemorable! - Cheri, is never more than a cipher, and the others are just there. 

I liked Chris Brunner’s art especially the flashback scenes to the US Military in the Middle-East and Rico Renzi’s colours were beautiful and vibrant - Loose Ends has a pretty cool trippy look to it as a result. 

After such a strong first issue, I was disappointed with how the book played out as a whole. The rest of the book has some good scenes sporadically as well as interesting visuals but Loose Ends shows why stories should be realised within a much tighter timeframe than a decade(!) - wait too long and you wind up with a tonally inconsistent, somewhat confused end product. Still, it’ll serve as a decent stopgap until the next volume of Southern Bastards.

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