Billing itself as a “Southern Crime Romance,” Jason Latour’s Loose Ends is off to an enthralling start, with a first issue that introduces us to our dual protagonists by telling us everything we need to know while leaving enough mystery to get us hooked.
Loose Ends #1 (Image Comics)
As an art form, comics often take the low road: Find the easiest formula and stick to it, never stray too far from the familiar in an effort to appeal the broadest possible audience. This is true of everything from superheroes to Archie Comics, so when someone bucks tradition and creates something new it’s worth taking notice. Loose Ends, while not an entirely unfamiliar story or setting, feels different than most comics on the rack these days.
Initially published in 2011 by 12 Gauge comics, Loose Ends follows the story of Sonny Gibson, a war veteran wrapped up in the heroin trade. As we join our “hero,” he’s drunk in the parking lot of a familiar roadside bar – not actually looking for trouble, but just about to find it. The issue follows an unfortunate series of events that puts him and a waitress by the name of Cheri on the run.
The truly refreshing part of the book is that it manages to accomplish a lot in only a handful of words. This is visual storytelling at it’s best, as we’re taken into a Tarantino-like world of relatable scumbags, crooks and hoods who straddle the line of Homeric protagonist and believable criminal – just without Tarantino’s sometimes obtrusive dialogue.
Obviously this means high marks should go to the art team of Chris Brunner (Pencils) and Rico Renzi (colors). I don’t often give a lot of credit to inkers or colorists, but the art of Loose Ends is clearly a collaborative effort and both sides of the coin are phenomenal. Brunner has a real eye for detail, which gives each sequence a lot of detail without making each panel too busy. Renzi, meanwhile, understands how every sequence should feel from a story perspective and uses his inks to create the proper emotion or aura for each sequence.
Just look at the scene in which Sonny returns to the bar to get even drunker. The lines get a little blurry, the colors grow a bit psychotropic – there’s actually a brilliant three-panel sequence where the colors invert and even the logo on Sonny’s shirt shifts from scene to scene to give us a real sense of what his mental state is. It’s really fantastic.
Overall, if you missed the 4 issue run of Loose Ends when it first came out in 2011 (which you almost assuredly did), do yourself the favor and check it out this time. If the first issue is any indication, you’ll like the ride it takes you on.