Review by Matt Duarte
As with the previous two issues, the folk at Radical Comics were kind enough to send me a copy of the conclusion of Last Days of American Crime. The series, created by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, has been an enjoyable ride through the nastiest underbelly of the criminal world as crime is about to be completely stopped by a broadcast signal that makes it impossible for people to commit any wrong-doing. This issue has a lot to wrap up, so let’s see how it holds up. There may be some spoilers, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.
The series picks off exactly where the last issue left off, with our protagonists Graham and Shelby held at gun point by a gang that is looking for some vengeance. Needless to say, they make their daring escape in a flurry and orgy of violence. To tell the truth, I felt that this scene went on for longer that it needed to, as the leader of the gang explains why he does what he does, almost as if hunting for sympathy where there is none to be found. It just felt completely unnecessary, and could have been trimmed, but at least it segued into the aforementioned violence nicely enough, and it gave Greg Tocchini the opportunity to show off his skills. The scene is beautifully choreographed and laid out, and I can’t think of any other artist that portrays death and gore quite like Tocchini: It’s brutal, dirty, and overwhelming.
Eventually, Graham and Shelby reunite with Kevin, who just came back from his quest successful, if not somewhat more frustrated. “I keep missing out on all the fun” he says with a wry smile, as if knowing he is going to be taking center stage later in the book. All the while, we hear private conversations involving all three parties, with alliances and plans unraveling before our eyes. It’s a countdown to see who will betray who, and Remender does an increible job keeping the reader guessing what the final outcome will be. I like that the characters all seem to be flawed narrators, where the readers never knows if they are telling the truth or not, which is a rarity in comic book storytelling.
As the story races to it’s conclusion, it’s finally the eve before Broadcast Day, when crime will no longer be a possibility and the caper that the group is planning needs to be done before that. The master is incredibly intricate and a sight to behold, you can tell that the creative team spent a long time planning it and thinking how to best execute it. I also like that Remender tied a scene from issue #2 that I thought was just Graham messing with his boss Shawn, but in reality was all part of the plan. It goes to show how crafty and cunning our protagonists are, and It’s all going according to plan until…
Twists and turns, backstabbing and double agents. I’m obviously not going to spoil how it all turns out, as you really need to read the whole thing to appreciate how well it plays out. It happens at midnight, when the broadcast has just gone on, and people are incapable of committing anything they believe to be wrong. Remender plays with what this means, particularly with a character that describes himself as a clinical sociopath. I’ve commented on previous reviews that I appreciated that Remender does not dwell too much on the science of the broadcast, and just focused on the people affected by it. He comes dangerously close to breaking that suspension of disbelief here (because if you think about it too much, it doesn’t make sense), but in the heat of the moment it comes off as a nice reveal and works within the story.
In the end, the story ends as you would expect it, but not through the path you would expect it to get there (if that makes any sense). Just when you think the story is done, and all you are getting is the epilogue, Remender keeps revealing more and more. It’s a happy conclusion as any of the characters are going to get and everything ties in nicely. If there’s one thing that worked against this series was the erratic schedule, with long delays between issues (originally was meant to come out every two months, but the last issue came out in April, and the one before that in December).
Verdict – Must Read. This is not a perfect issue (like I mentioned above, the first ten pages could have been shortened), but the heist scene is superbly done and more than makes up for it. The characters are compelling and keep you guessing just what is going to happen until the very last page. If you haven’t checked it out already, keep your eyes open for the collection, you won’t regret it.