The Last Days of American Crime #3 Review

The finale in Radical’s latest bi-monthly offering has many things going for it. Sam Worthington’s attachment to the film version, writer Rick Remender’s (The Punisher, Fear Agent) high concept tale and Greg Tocchini’s eye melting art. Every issue of this series should come with a complimentary combination eye wash and brain soap. It’s dirty, but very entertaining. As with all good tales, it’s the central story idea that is the fundamental building block to a rollicking good time. Remender has not only a great concept, but the skills to build upon it.

The American Peace Initiative is a signal that will be broadcast America-wide, rendering all knowing criminal thoughts (and thus, activities) non-existent. Of course, it’s not necessarily a popular decision, with many leaving the Staes for Canada and Mexico, but for some opportunists they see the chance of a lifetime. Middle-aged Graham Bricke is one such man, and the focus of Last Days. The first two issues saw him form his team, consisting of lovers Kevin Cash and Shelby Dupree, as well as battle it out with Bricke’s former partner, Enrique.

This finale opens with a bloodied Graham and Shelby on their knees facing Enrique’s angry goons while their leader screams about his dead daughter. In case you’ve forgotten what kind of comic this is, the initial pages will “gently” remind you. With Bricke’s narration adding tension like a piano wire, it gets off to a good start and thankfully only gets better.

We learn about Bricke’s criminal past, his “flirtation” with an honest life and the motivation for this last job. With less seemingly random acts of violence Remender brings a laser-like focus in these 56 pages, and like any good heist film, makes the job one worth waiting for. Of course, there’s double-crossing, murder and the sense that you never really know what the outcome will be until the final page is turned, and when the broadcast goes out during the final few minutes of the job, it makes things even more interesting, and heightens my desire to see a faithful film adaptation. There is perhaps a tad too much exposition in the conclusion, but not enough that it ever gets distracting, and it doesn’t take away from the suspense and mystery from the entire series.

As much as Remender’s bloody fingerprints are all over this book, so are those of Tocchini. This is a series whose visual approach is as daring as its story. Tocchini’s pages could almost be the work of a team of artists, with inking, colouring and page layouts being a work of perfect tandem. He somehow manages to give scenes of flying fingers and bullet wounds an air of light-filled delicacy, maintaining an effective balance between dazzling beauty and bludgeoning brutality.

Radical prove again that they know what comics are capable of and are waiting for the other guys to catch up.

The Last Days of American Crime #2 Review

In the age of Tarantino and Ritchie it’s unsurprising that this series was picked up, by producer/actor Sam Worthington, with such immediacy. With new concepts like this, Radical show that they know what it takes to make comics like the best examples of bold cinema.

The debut issue of this bi-monthly series introduced us to the world of ageing Graham Bricke who, like many others, wants to choke every opportunity they can before the U.S government broadcasts a signal throughout the nation, rendering criminal desires null and void. It’s one of those simple concepts that can be described in a sentence, yet whose potential is limitless. No wonder Hollywood are keen. Writer Rick Remender never gets bogged down by the hug scope of the idea though. There’s hints to actions outside of the happenings involving Bricke and his fellow crims, but it’s the ragtag bunch of ne’er-do-wells who are the charismatic centrepiece. The signal combined with the complete and total transfer of paper money to digital transactions ensure that the window of opportunity for Bricke and co. is becoming narrower and deadlier.

Issue 2 begins, with only 7 days left so Bricke (or Rory as he’s also known) has to move things along quickly with his new partners, safe cracker Kevin and his hacker girlfriend Shelby (who Bricke had a brief …encounter with last issue). The 3 characters are largely separated during the story, which means with only one issue left in this series, the finale is set up to be explode.

There’s no doubt that the world of American Crime is a filthy one. Rick Remender is writing the Punisher after all, so he knows a thing or two about the criminal mind, but whereas his work on that series, and Fear Agent shows a deft ability to welcome the fantastic, here he has a different agenda. From the opening pages in which members of a Mexican gang threaten a rival’s naked partner, it’s blindingly obvious that this isn’t one for the kids. Remender knows his boundaries though. There’s never a point, despite all the profanity and loose morals, that he’s puffing his chest out to show how ‘cool’ he is. He shows restraint and makes sure to give the reader a breather, and that’s something that Mark Millar could do with learning. There is a lot more violence, nudity and drug use in this issue than the debut, but there’s also the sense that Remender is ramping up his grandiose story, with the reason to the signal being given, as well as its implications on society’s freedoms.

This is a well paced tale, with Bricke as the guiding force, but the scenes involving Kevin’s run-in with some local drug dealers, his visit to his unique and wealthy family, and Shelby’s kidnapping, (along with the possibility of backstabbing) means that this is a guaranteed page turner. With a world filled with hardcore characters in the Sin City realm, and the approach of a Hollywood blockbuster, American Crime is an intoxicating, if sometimes shocking, mix.

A large part of the razzle dazzle is due to Greg Tocchini’s sizzling artwork. I’ve never seen an artist who can colour his own pencils with such verve. He has a rough approach, but one that is filled with details lesser artists wouldn’t bother with. By choosing unique angles it really does feel like a movie directed by the next big thing from the world of music videos.

This is another great entry in this series, and for a cheap 64 pager with a production and design gallery included, it’s pretty hard to pass by.

The Last Days Of American Crime #1 Review

Ever since I first heard about this project I’ve been intrigued. Seeing preview pages at Comic-Con this year made the anticipation grow even more, and now that Sam Worthington is attached to produce and star in a film adaptation, hopefully more people will see this. The concept alone is worth the price of admission.

Like a classic noir tale, it begins with a death (presumably) and then a flashback that explains what led up to it. It seems that in 2 weeks the U.S government will launch the American Peace Initiative as a, “necessary step to protect our nation from further acts of domestic terrorism.” What that means is (and this is the enticing hook of the whole story) is that a broadcast will go live across America, effectively rendering any criminal desires obsolete, and so crims nation wide have a fortnight to get all their illegal ways out of their system. Yes, it really is the last days of American crime.

As is the norm in high concept tales like this, TV news handles most of the heavy exposition (rioting across the country, a mass exodus of people to Canada, etc) but it never lets the story get bogged down. Most of that story revolves around hard man and opportunist Graham Bricke (also referred to as “Brick” in Radical’s promo materials however) as he recruits a gang of similarly minded individuals for one last job. There’s glimpses from the noir handbook, such as Graham’s voiceover describing “that broad’s” walk and the taste of her lips, but writer Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent) digs deeper by making Graham a thrice married man who lives with his Mum in a trailer. Graham also works as a security guard at a large bank and wants to use his know-how to strike quickly before paper money makes way for digital transactions.

There’s a lot of profanity here and a smattering of blood, and sex but Remender is putting all these pieces together like a chess master, making us readers wait for him to strike. This first issue (of a three ish bi-monthly series) is mostly set up, like the first 30 minutes of a classic heist film, but the bulk of the groundwork has been laid. I have a feeling next issue will consist of a lot of action, betrayal and a few bad decisions.

Greg Tocchini’s art works splendidly with Remender’s well paced script. After this, he’s sure to go places. With a painterly style that is hard to compare to anyone else (I’ll say it’s like a more detailed Phil Noto, but that’s not quite right), the artist knows when to use detail and when to approach pages with more subtlety. It’s simply a beautiful book, and Tocchini makes even bathrooms and bars look mundane yet somehow magical. See a huge preview here to get a glimpse.

Also included in this 64 page issue is a sketchbook section by Tocchini and an interview with Remender. Radical prove yet again that they know how to mix good looking books with grand concepts in a delicious cocktail.

The Last Days Of American Crime Preview

Now, Radical Publsihing put out a lot of great looking books, with equally great concepts behind them, and it was no wonder their panel showcasing their upcoming works at Comic-Con was packed. Greg Tocchini’s pencils for The Last Days of American Crime make Rick Remender’s unique story seem even more jaw dropping. Below is the press release for the series and 2 random pages from the mature first issue.

In the not-too-distant future, as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans in secret to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. To keep this from the public, the government creates a distraction, installing a new currency system using digital charge cards.

Radical Publishing is excited to announce the December 2009 debut of The Last Days of American Crime, created and written by critically acclaimed author Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent) and Illustrated by Greg Tocchini (Thor, 1602: New World). The three-issue miniseries will be the latest in Radical Publishing’s 64-page bookshelf format with a low $4.99 price point.

The Last Days of American Crime #1 Covers

The Last Days of AmericanCrime tells the story of Graham Brick, a petty criminal never quite able to hit the big score. In a grand scheme, Graham intends to steal one of the charging stations, skip the country and live off unlimited funds for the rest of his life. But the media has leaked news of the anti-crime signal one week before it was to go live… and now Graham and his team have just a few days to turn the heist of the century into the last crime in American history.

“The Last Days of American Crime is one of the most unique crime stories on or off the printed page and Radical is very proud to be a part of it” said Radical Publishing President and Publisher, Barry Levine. “We’re especially excited to work with Rick Remender, one of the most talented creators in comics today. His writing is bringing a new and unique voice to the crime genre and we couldn’t be more pleased to help bring his story to life.”

In discussing how Last Days came to Radical, Rick Remender states, “Barry Levine called me after reading some of my other books and said he was looking for original genre pitches. I had one that I’d been itching to do for a long time in The Last Days of American Crime. It’s hardcore crime with an apolitical bent and it took someone like Barry and Radical to see the potential of such a thing.”

Readers can preview the first 15 pages of The Last Days of American Crime on Radical Publishing’s MySpace page.

The Last Days of American Crime #1 appears in the October 2009 issue of Diamond Previews and features two separate covers, one by Alex Maleev (DCD# OCT091056) and another by series artist Greg Tocchini (DCD# OCT091057).

The Last Days of American Crime #1 p2

The Last Days of American Crime #1 p5

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