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‘Violent Love, Vol. 1: Stay Dangerous’ TP (review)

Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Illustrated by Victor Santos
Published by Image Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1534300446
Released 5/30/17 / $9.99


At first I wasn’t thrilled with Violent Love from Image, but as I read on I came to the realization that it was growing on me and, by the end, I realized that I had actually enjoyed it.

As far as the story goes, imagine a Sin City romance written by Frank Miller and directed onscreen by Quentin Tarantino—lots of repugnant, violent, and largely unlikable characters cursing and shooting and stabbing each other while the blood runs ever deeper.

That’s it on the surface, but writer Frank J. Barbiere throws the reader when he makes you slowly realize there’s more depth to it all than there probably should be, right up to an ending I didn’t see coming.

What really sells this modern noir story, though, is the artwork by Victor Santos. I mean…wow! SO impressive! Imagine Steranko’s showiest cinematic storytelling techniques done up in a style that’s at once his own but with what seems the strong influence of Bruce Timm, perhaps with a dash of the late Darwyn Cooke thrown in. Maybe some David Mazzuchelli, too.

The innovative page layouts—admirable even in thumbnails on the PDF copy I reviewed—and skilled use of color throughout, kept me lingering on the pages longer than normal.

The less said about the plot or specific characters, the more you’ll appreciate them as you go along. Much of the story is told in flashback to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The book’s Natural Born Killers vibe added to the various above noted influences makes this far from the most original work I’ve seen but there’s something to be said of what one DOES with one’s influences and as far as I’m concerned, Barbiere and particularly Santos do a fine job of making this all their own by the time the reader comes out the other end.

Violent Love is a visceral, gut-wrenching character study, adult in the true sense of that description, that will leave you, whether you expect it or not, waiting anxiously for the sequel.

Booksteve Recommends.



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