“In a recent IGN Comics Smash! podcast, the point was made that because there are no new stories, writers must perform a magic act in order to make the reader believe he is reading something new. Well, someone get Rick Remender a top hat and a wand because he accomplishes it in the down and dirty Last Days of American Crime. By infusing a classic noir heist with the tension of modern American politics, Remender gives us a great opening to a comic series – perhaps even on the level of Criminal or 100 Bullets.
Although the title character is a down and out hustler by the name of Graham, the commentary on American society is equally as important. The bar Graham visits has a vintage American flag in the backdrop. The television has reports of unrest and violence at America’s borders. Even the mysterious woman Graham gets involved with wears a red dress and has white star tattoos on her torso. Because of increased domestic terrorism and crime, America is about to abandon paper money, which means for veteran criminals like Graham, these are truly the last days of American crime.
The cast of characters will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of crime drama. Graham is your typical hard boiled lead not unlike a Clint Eastwood or Lee Marvin character. The criminals he enlists, Kevin Cash and Shelby Dupree, are a dangerous couple similar to Bonnie and Clyde or a toned down Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers. Yet the story doesn’t feel unoriginal. Remender also has a great ear for natural, genuine dialogue that puts the comic ahead of the pack. Plus there’s just something about a good heist that demands attention. There is a well-timed reveal at the end of the issue that will have readers eagerly anticipating the next installment. My one complaint is that it took an interview in the back of the book with Remender to learn some of the finer details about the political landscape of the series. I’m glad they included this, but I’d rather see it included in the actual story. Hopefully these points will be expanded upon next issue.
As excited as I was to discover Remender’s talents, I was equally impressed with the kinetic and expressive artwork of Greg Tocchini. His art is reminiscent of Phil Noto, but has some of the fluid and dreamlike characteristics of James Jean. Shelby is the selling point of the series and her visage is beautiful and appropriate for the genre. The opening page which zooms out from Graham’s eye and the fifth page where Graham lights his cigarette have a very strong cinematic feel. Other elements, such as the 2D smoke ring Shelby blows in Graham’s face, are ones that can only be done in comic book form. Tocchini handles action sequences very well which suggests that he may have an animation background like Phil Noto. I will definitely look for his artwork in the future.
Although Remender has crafted a fine crime noir, it’s the socio-political aspect that won me over. I hope he continues to explore the impact of America’s political activities and provide enough twists and turns to counteract the implied bleak ending offered up on the opening page.”