Mulder and Scully, Courtney and Kurt, Beyoncé and Jay Z, Harley and the Joker; the pop culture world is full of power couples. Now Image Comic are joining the loved up parade with their new book Violent Love.
Violent Love is “inspired by true events”, most notably Bonnie and Clyde being the most obvious of inspirations. The story starts in a rambling sort of way, the narrative being given as a case of history through which we are introduced to waitress Daisy Jane and her tolerance for the bad things that seem to fill her small town life. Still the darkness at the edge of this town goes a lot further than being man handled in the dinner (not a euphemism). Daisy’s Dad works hard to give the life that Daisy deserves, but a late night surprise that initially starts the break up and goes some way to shaping Daisy’s life.
Writer Frank J. Barbiere pulls together a story that is unrecognizable from the style last seen on Dejah Thoris. When I say unrecognizable, I don’t mean this as a bad thing. I enjoyed the Dejah book and I’m still a little confused at its and her sister books Vampirella and Red Sonja demise. Violent Love is a totally different affair, with Barbiere flexing his mature writing muscles. True, there are a couple of familiar tones and beats throughout the story , but as this is issue one it is pretty much a given that there needs to be some base level that readers can immediately buy into. Dialogue wise, the characters work well, with each having an impact and ramifications to deal with, which adds a level of realism to events.
Artist Victor Santos provides all the art in the book, with a sixties vibe that seems to be a mix of Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm, both structurally and with the figure work. The Timm elements are on show through little flourishes as well with some of the poses, especially with Daisy herself. At time though, Santos does go for a less is more approach allowing the reader’s eye to fill in the details. The main reason that this works, is that with Santos providing inks and colors then the emphasis used is somewhat truer than having to explain a look or style to at least two other people. Talking about the colors, there Santos displays some nice environment work, from the dusty heat of Texas to the blood covered innards of violence.
I was unsure about this book at first, even with the draw of Barbiere. I have looked at it a number of times and can say with certainty, it’s a book that gets better with every reading, which allows the first glance recognition of obviousness to be dispelled with nuance and violence. Fans of heist books who pick this book up may feel a little cheated, as there is no real heist in play. But readers will need to stick with it to garner the fullest of enjoyment.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art (including colors) – 4 Stars
Story By: Frank J. Barbiere
Art By: Victor Santos