THE VIOLENT #1
Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Adam Gorham and Michael Garland
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: December 9, 2015
Well, I’m a mess. But hey, so is pretty much every character in Ed Brisson, Adam Gorham, and Michael Garland’s new Image series, The Violent. Still though, I’m a mess after reading this first issue. I guess that is what heaps of gut punches will do to you.
The Violent #1 follows Mason, a recently reintegrated offender, and his wife Becky along with their little bundle of joy, Kaitlyn. Mason and Becky are ex-drug addicts, trying to live a sober and honest life with their daughter. They’re working hard in the city, but old friends and bad habits are making things difficult for them. This first issue takes you on a tour of a day in the life of this family, giving you a first-hand look at the hardships faced by those that live in impoverished areas with few positive avenues to trek down. The issue ends with a couple of heartbreaking cliffhangers, and I’m only hoping the lump in my throat will dissolve before the next installment.
This is a book that matters. Ed Brisson is telling a tale about a family struggling to make ends meet, a family plagued by drugs and violence trying to turn their lives around for the betterment of their child. Brisson beautifully captures how difficult life can be sometimes, when all you’re trying to do is the right thing. The dialogue is honest; the story is painful. This comic is raw. Brisson makes it easy to connect to these characters, even when, for some, their past may be so different from a familiar one. The characters and setting feel real, as if you are walking right there on the streets with them. The pacing is superb, bringing strong upbeats with sad, silent moments. What I love most about this book is how magical it feels, yet it has no supernatural elements. These are people, being people, doing people things, but the story feels larger than life in its reality. This is truly tremendous work.
Adam Gorham’s art brings the pain all on its own. The heavy lining and sometimes overly inky settings set the tone for the gloom. The art provides a stunning backdrop for the characters to walk around in. The opening scene, lacking dialogue or narration, does an incredible job of setting the stage. The tension really builds in Gorham’s art right from the get-go. The atmosphere he created feels like a coiled snake, ready to strike at any moment, which plays beautifully against the final pages of this story, as the snake strikes in the desperate last scene of this issue. Gorham depicts the despair and seemingly hopeless faces of the characters so perfectly, it makes your eyes well up just a little. No, you’re crying. Michael Garland’s colors play well off of the dark tone of this book. Nothing is too bright so as to take away from the lonely, sad feeling this issue gives off, but the art is also not so dark that people and places are unidentifiable. Garland’s colors are subdued in the right way to really make this story shine.
The Violent #1 is so good, it hurts to read it. I mean really hurts to read it because it’s just so sad. I’m excited and frightened to see where this story is going to go, because in just one issue, I’m already attached to the characters. If you’ve ever needed a lesson in how to create something heartbreaking and breathtaking at the same time, The Violent is your go-to source.
The Verdict: 9.5/10