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The Last Days of American Crime (Image Comics, 2009; #1-3)

American Crime.jpg

In two weeks, the American government will send out a signal that makes it impossible for people to break the law.  Against a backdrop of rioting, murder, and martial law, a crook plans the ultimate heist: stealing a box that generates limitless digital currency.  But rivals are on his tail, the clock is ticking, and his partners seem to be working their own angles.  What could possibly go wrong?

With Rick Remender writing, the answer is, “A lot.”  Remender may be one of my favorite writers, but sometimes his comics are just brutal, and this is one of them.  More than Low or Tokyo Ghost, The Last Days of American Crime paints a picture of a world of complete nihilism.  With the clock ticking down to losing everything—free will, the capacity to be good in a world with no bad—what’s left to lose? That’s the question the book seems to ask.  If you dig past the manipulation and murder and hatred and racism—of which there is much, and which will likely be too much for some—you’ll find another idea.  If you can hold onto what matters in the chaos of complete nihilism, you have the chance to come out the other side intact.

Few artists can make a page look so beautiful and so horrifying at once as well as Greg Tocchini can.  There’s a sort of impressionism to his work—let the viscera and blood and dirt and fire on the page blur, and it looks idyllic.  It’s an apt pairing given the story’s ideas about surviving nihilism.

I don’t think that The Last Days of American Crime is a comic for everyone.  It requires an acceptance that, if the world is at its worst, then people must be as well.  Characters are unflinchingly racist, sexist, abusive—all and all, most of them are terrible people.  But the book wouldn’t work without most of that (the exception being a throwaway moment straight out of M. Butterfly that does feel gratuitously transphobic).  But if gritty, unflinchingly brutal noir stories are your thing, this one is well crafted.

Collected in

  • The Last Days of American Crime (#1-3)

Credits

Writer: Rick Remender | Artist: Greg Tocchini | Letterer: Rus Wooton | Editor: Luis Reyes | Covers: Alex Maleev

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