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Violent Love: Stay Dangerous (Image Comics, 2016; #1-5)

“Not all stories got happy endings.”

With this admonition, a retired marshal begins to tell the girl he babysits the story of Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley.  Daisy seeks vengeance, transformed by her father’s murder.  His is not her first loss, but it is violent and painful and senseless.  Shot in the stomach, she has to watch him burn.  From then on, Daisy seeks only retribution.  She becomes a force of nature will let nothing stand in her way.

Violent Love combines noir storytelling with outlaw film trappings and a dose of romance comics.  Frank J. Barbiere’s writing makes these seemingly disparate elements feel intimate and urgent. Understandable as Daisy’s motives may be, one question arises:  in going as far as she needs, will she become the same kind of monster she’s hunting?  Her motivation may be understandable, and she may be sympathetic, but can she get her revenge before becoming so steeped in blood that she loses that sympathy?  That tension pervades the story and raises the stakes of everything that happens.

In the book’s most idyllic moments, Victor Santos’s art is smooth, clean, and stylish.  It reminds me in those beats of Darwyn Cooke’s style.  But when things break bad, when the world falls into chaos, it is as though the art’s lines only hold together by a thread—those moments are explosive, violent, and messy.  They’re the reality Daisy faces, and they stand in the starkest contrast against the world’s fleeting beauty.  It betrays that beauty as a lie, or at least as something Daisy can never have.

Barbiere and Santos have put together an urgent, visceral comic that’s unlikely most other books out there.  It’s engaging, frenetic, and stylish.  If an outlaw revenge story sounds like it’d be up your alley, then Violent Love is worth your attention.  

Collected in

  • Violent Love, Vol. 1: Stay Dangerous (#1-5)


Writer: Frank J. Barbiere | Artist: Victor Santos | Designer: Dylan Todd

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