Writer: Jason Latour / Artist: Chris Brunner / Image Comics
Jason Latour’s 4-part Loose Ends is a series a decade in the making, started on 2006 by Latour – “pinned under the weight of all the things I was told comics couldn’t be,” as explained by the writer at the end of its first issue – in Charlotte, North Carolina. It actually premiered originally in 2011 by 12 Gauge Comics, now finding its home (and wider distribution) under Image, as a series that feels much like Jason Aaron and Latour’s Southern Bastards in tone, art, and violence. The story follows Sonny, a war veteran turned drug dealer, at a trashy dive bar and slowly unfolds, suspenseful, until the ax falls and leaves Sonny on the run with a local woman after a violent encounter. Initially it almost seems as if the story is wasting time at the bar, elongating scenes of assholes and intoxication in a series that has precious little time to waste, but it serves the scene well, setting up the pieces and startling you once, and then again, shifting the narrative into full speed. In between the bar scenes are a few flashbacks that help set the foundation of his history and trading heroin, giving Loose Ends a little more depth than what could be offered in the context of Sonny visiting an old flame at the roadside bar.
Loose Ends’ artwork is an example of exceptional pacing when few words are needed or used. Though there are definitely scenes spattered with word balloons it’s not a dialogue-heavy comic for the most part, and many of the panels carry the weight of propelling the story on their own. Again, there’s surely a lot to fill inside of 4 issues, so credit to both writer and artist for maximizing what they fit inside without feeling the least bit rushed.
Overall, Loose Ends is a gritty southern crime romance that’ll keep you turning pages. And while many bemoan the short length, I’m actually all in favor of short, concise series; they’re a lot more difficult to pull off, and while we’re forfeiting long-term character development, the best writers can do a lot with a little. Hopefully Loose Ends exhibits that in the next 3 issues.