There’s an irresistible confidence in how “The Last Days of American Crime” #1 is told. Unlike many comics, Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini aren’t afraid to just dive in and expect the readers to catch up on their own, a strategy that pays off most of the time. However, a lot of what happens in this issue also feels like set-up for things that won’t pay off until issues two or three, which is fine for the main plot, but for subplots in a bimonthly series of 48-page comics, that may be expecting a little much.
At some point in the future, the United States of America is switching from paper money to exclusively electronic currency, a move that will effectively kill crime since, now, every transaction will be recorded, monitored. How can you pay for drugs or prostitutes or any other illegal service when the police can access financial records showing where the money went? Two weeks before the switchover, Graham has a plan to make himself and some associates quite wealthy by stealing one of the machines designed to credit people’s accounts under this new system.
At its core, this is a very simple bank robbery surrounded by a lot of seemingly complicated ideas, a good way to build up a story like this. The details give this world its own verisimilitude that’s believable, while the simplicity of the crime means that it shouldn’t devolve into a long, overly complex story that’s so involved that readers get lost. Throughout, Remember and Tocchini also pepper the issue with violence and sex, firmly placing this within the lower rungs of society.
The main characters are all interesting, albeit a little cookie-cutter. Nothing about Graham stands out as unique, but Remender handles his narration well, beginning the comic with a page that takes places two weeks into the future and it’s a strong, engaging page that makes you wonder what happens. Some of the smaller character bits, though, aren’t paid off here and may get lost in the shuffle before the series is done or, at least, forgotten by readers thanks to the bimonthly schedule.
Tocchini’s art is reminiscent of Phil Noto’s and has a similar washed out, clean look to it. He’s looser than Noto, which is beneficial in this sort of story where more sketchy, malleable lines give a better sense of the criminal underworld that the story takes place in. His characters have a tendency to overact at times, but that plays well in some scenes where there’s just talking for pages on end and he needs to keep things moving along and holding the reader’s interest visually. His layouts are a little stiff and the flow from one panel to another isn’t always as strong as it could be. In a few spots, I had to jump back to an earlier panel to see what was going on.
“The Last Days of American Crime” #1 is a good first issue that sets up the world and the crime at hand well. If you enjoy “Criminal” and other crimes books, you’ll probably get a kick out of this.