Wednesday, 1 August 2018


Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley are bank robbers, operating in the Southwest in the 1970s. But Frank Barbiere's story opens 1987, with retired US Marshal Lou telling their tale to young Penny, flashing back to the late Sixties and early Seventies, to Daisy Jane's path into a life of crime, and to his own intersection with her and rock while on the track of the notorious La Jauria drug cartel. Violent Love is violent, and there is love, but mostly it is a fast-paced thriller that claims to be 'inspired by true events'.

It's not hard to see what some of those events might be, but Violent Love also wears its influences proudly. Not least music. The opening epigram comes from the punk band Beach Slang, and while that meant nothing to me, when you read the lyrics the art by Victor Santos can carry you away in those kinds of beats. In fact, you could look at this work as a sort of mix between elements of films as diverse as Badlands, The Outfit or The Grifters. The mix comes from the noirish sense of doom and the pulpy story-telling of Seventies crime movies, crossed with the anarchic energy of punk, music of a more violent sort of crime era. The closest comparisons would be to Carl Franklin's One False Move, or, perhaps even closer, to the now-forgotten crime-spree thriller set in Texas, Love And A .45, starring a young Renee Zellweger.

This is not to say Violent Love is simply derivative, but that it wears its influences, and their eras well. It's also telling that Image Comics bills the story as “crime/romance”, and the cover of the fifth issue of the original series is done beautifully in the style of a romance comic. In the sense that comics are our modern pulp magazines, or pulp novels, it is perhaps inevitable that they should have discovered an affinity for the story-telling of violent noirish B-movie crime. I've praised the work of Ed Brubaker here many times, and Barbiere bears comparison with him, though with Santos' art, he moves in a more dynamic, faster-paced kind of accelerated story-telling. It's a compelling read.

Violent Love Vol. 1: Stay Dangerous
by Frank J Barbiere & Victor Santos
Image Comics 2017, $9.99 ISBN 9781534300446

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