Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig (pencils / inks), Jordan Boyd (colours)
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc. (June 2018)
Do you cringe at the memory of the late 80s?
If you’re not a fan of that decade’s movie tropes; smash- mouth action, over-the-top violence, and deliciously bad stereotypes, then stay away.
If you read it despite my warning, then you’re about to be converted. Baptised in blood.
This is the conclusion to the four-part opera of violence that has been Love Like Blood.
The kids of Kings Dominion are on the run and fighting to stay alive.
What’s Kings Dominion?
It’s the Hogwarts for the criminal underworld that this series centers around. The handful of students it focuses on are the Breakfast Club with guns, knives and deep criminal tendencies.
The Love Like Blood storyline sees the cast cornered like rats in Mexico trapped in the crosshairs of a yakuza power struggle. The issue opens with a showdown between original cast members (and previously presumed dead) Marcus and Maria and main series villain Viktor (Ivan Drago’s steroids on steroids). Last issue’s bare-knuckled, broken-toothed, beat down has reached a climax with Marcus primed to shoot Viktor dead. But in a surprising turn of events he instead reasons with Viktor. A very raw conversation follows about duty and whose footsteps we choose to follow in as we build our own identities.
Following this, Marcus and Maria link up with the rest of the students in the nick of time, saving them from crazy hillbilly Brandy, only to again face imminent death at the hands of the yakuza. The outcome of the face-off sees life lost, trusts broken, fences mended, and the characters leave more scarred and broken than before. Does anybody walk away from this story unscathed?
This is a series where the stakes are always sky high and out of reach. While there’s not really been any significant lull in the two-plus years’ worth of issues, the conclusion of Love like Blood is another peak for the series.
The theme of forgiveness and the hints of redemption and sacrifice in this story don’t just play with our emotions. They sadistically torture them. The heart and earnestness in the writing, amidst the blood and betrayal, is a testament to how well-crafted the characters are and how much agency each is given to speak with.
The pitch of the action is at scarlet fever for the entire issue. It’s matched by a pace that is at cardiac event levels. It’s unbearable and at the same time impossible not to be utterly transfixed.
I cannot talk about Rick Remender’s writing and Wes Craig’s separately. They work in perfect synchronicity to elevate each other. The sheer trauma conveyed in the story is a product of this. Is it on the faces of each character? Or is it in their voices? It’s THAT hard to call.
Jordan Boyd’s colours, however, do deserve a spotlight. The colourist adds so much to the story with such a simple palette. It comes across as so virtual, so tangible and hard-hitting, that you’d swear your knuckles were just as bruised and battered as the characters by the end.
Bruised and battered. That’s exactly how this issue will leave you.
Bruised and battered and begging for more.