Friday, June 3, 2011

Loveless: A Kin of Homecoming -- Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin

If you're a fan of westerns with a clear moral compass, Loveless is probably not the story for you.

If you aren't a fan of westerns, don't write Loveless off just yet. It's a western through-and-through, but it feels more like a noir story -- more than any other, it reminded me of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest.

If you found Deadwood too violent, too profane, too dark or too explicit, you might want to give Loveless a pass.

If, however, you loved Deadwood and mourned its all-too-sudden passing, well then. Read on.

It's the story of Wes and Ruth Cutter, a Missouri couple separated by the Civil War. It's a Reconstruction era revenge story, full of secrets and lies and shame and hatred and betrayal.

It's set in a Northern-occupied town that fought for the South. Tensions are already running high when Wes rides back into his hometown, and his arrival only serves to exacerbate the situation. He's got secrets, his wife has secrets, and the town has secrets. There are no white hats in Blackwater: People do horrible things, regardless of whether they're Union or Confederate, soldiers, gunrunners or former slaves.

The artwork is striking and sometimes gorgeous, but can also be confusing. I actually had to read the entire thing twice before I had everything and everyone straight. Flashbacks often take place within the same panel as the present, which makes for a really cool, multi-layered effect, but requires some amount of work and close attention on the part of the reader. Some readers may find the slow build, rapid scene changes and unexplained motivations frustrating, but I like it when authors tease out a story rather than laying it all out in the first few pages.

Warning for those same still-mourning Deadwood fans: Loveless was also cancelled early, so the story never got a satisfying ending, and twenty-four issues is all we're going to get.


Anonymous said...

I've had a recent craving for westerns-- I don't know why. It's taken me back to my issues of Loveless, and the series holds up. I really dug this series, and it's even better the second time around.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, I especially loved how the flashbacks were incorporated into the present day action.

I haven't read many western-westerns -- space westerns, zombie westerns, sure... oh, and Preacher -- so if you've got any to recommend that you think I'd dig, I'm all ears!