The first thing that strikes you about this comic is how unrelentingly gorgeous it is. If you like comics as art then you will like this comic before you have even read it purely by the aesthetic bravado of the images. “Loose Ends” is a book so determined to stomp all over your face you might just lie down to facilitate the process. This then raises the eternal question of whether the book is all splash and no cash; I can assure you the currency of the words is valuable and indeed precious.
“Loose Ends” flips you around many times in one issue because it does something most other books are afraid to do: it asks you to keep up. Nothing is spoon-fed. In fact, most spoons are either bent over to best stand after having the flame applied, or they have been sharpened and are ready to land in your spleen at any time. It is up to you to survive in this comic and if you need to go back an issue or two to piece things together then that is just what you will do. The success is that you will want to go to such lengths to connect the dots between moments, characters, lines, and concepts. Though the road ahead might be hard, turning back would be the act to kill your soul.
The story of this book is convoluted. It is also incredibly emotional. For all the tough guy posturing and swearing there is a heart afraid of the finality of death. It’s a concept dealt little weight in today’s culture and society, and finally we have a tale that pays reverence to the big narrative conclusion we all face. Death is not cool and it’s not easy and it affects you in messed up ways, be it your ignorance of it or your race from it. The specter of death haunts each page and every character deals with it in their own way.
Chris Brunner’s art is phenomenal. The flow of characters across pages and through scenes is an amazing skill to watch unfold. Everything feels loose, and yet you know each line holds a purpose. This is easily one of the best looking comics of the year. Brunner uses little symbols and images to indicate the vibe around people or what they are saying. This technique is used enough that it could get old and yet does not come close even once. Many will try and replicate this in the coming months, no doubt, but no one will get it as good as we see it here.
Rico Renzi is coloring this art and doing one very fine job at it. Scenes hold overall color tones to imply both context and intent. Then individual pages make their own statement for existing and Renzi doesn’t make one single simple choice. The float of a shoe through the air is just as important as the reflected neon lights of the building across the street. The sign of a good color artist is when they elevate their craft in the face of even better art. The colors will make you stop periodically to enjoy single panels for far longer than it takes to read them.
“Loose Ends” comes across as an experimental comic, but the only aim is to be excellent at whatever ends up on the page. This is the comic equivalent of a Darren Aronofsky film in that it might not be for everyone but many will enjoy it on numerous levels. The slow burn of the tale, and fractured narrative, makes the reader feel as caged and itchy as the characters. This comic is a must read if you constantly search the racks for something ‘new’ and can’t pin your next favorite thing down. “Loose Ends” is your new best friend; try not to let it get arrested.