Friday, June 27, 2014

I Reads You Review: LOVELESS: A Kin of Homecoming

DC COMICS/Vertigo – @DCComics @vertigo_comics

CREATOR/STORY: Brian Azzarello
CREATOR/ART: Marcelo Frusin
COLORS: Patricia Mulvihill
LETTERS: Clem Robins
EDITOR: Will Dennis (original series)
COVER: Marcelo Frusin
128pp, Color, $9.99 U.S., $13.50 CAB (2006)

Suggested for mature readers

Loveless was a Western comic book series for mature readers published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics.  The series was created by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Marcelo FrusinLoveless was published for 24 issues with the cover dates:  December 2005 to May 2008.  In addition to Frusin, artists Danijel Zezelj and Werther Dell'Edera also drew the series.  Loveless was a monthly, ongoing comic book series that was apparently intended to run for four years, but was cancelled after two-and-half years.

Loveless began as a series that focused on a Confederate Civil War veteran who returns to his hometown and finds it under Union control.  The veteran eventually becomes sheriff, as he continues to investigate the fate of his missing wife.  While the early issues of Loveless focused on the veteran’s relationships with the townsfolk and other locals, the series eventually expanded its scope and themes.

Several years ago, probably around the end of Loveless’ publication, I used some Amazon credit to buy the first two trade paperback collections of Loveless.  After misplacing the books, I found them and decided to read both and to review, at least, the first trade collection (for you, of course, dear readers).

Loveless: A Kin of Homecoming collects Loveless issues #1 to 5.  All five issues were produced by writer Brian Azzarello, artist Marcelo Frusin, colorist Patricia Mulvihill, and letterer Clem Robins.  The art for the cover of Loveless #1 was reused as the cover for Loveless: A Kin of Homecoming, but with new cover copy.

Loveless is set mainly in and around the town of Blackwater, Missouri.  The series introduces Wesley “Wes” Cutter, a former Confederate soldier who returns to Blackwater, where he finds that Union soldiers occupy his house and his wife, Ruth Stokes, is missing.  To regain his house, Wes starts killing Unions soldiers, but he isn’t the only former rebel killing soldiers.  Another former Confederate leads a band of fellow rebels who do not accept that the Civil War ended.  A man named Boyd leads this band of bushwhackers that are not only killing Union soldiers, but also Black people who live locally.

Jeremiah Trotter, a Northern businessman (a “carpetbagger”) wants to bring stability to the area.  In spite of the protests of Union commander, Colonel Silas Redd, Trotter offers Cutter the job of sheriff, which he accepts.  Perhaps, Cutter hopes the position will help him find answers about his missing wife and his missing younger brother, Jonny Cutter.  Also, a former slave turned bounty hunter, Atticus Mann, enters the scene.

Writer Brian Azzarello offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to intriguing characters.  Lead character, Wes Cutter, is full of mystery, and with each page, he becomes more interesting rather than off-putting, which having too much mystery can sometimes do to a character.  Having a lot of characters can be a little confusing when the narrative shifts back and forth in time, however, which the first fives issues of Loveless do quite a bit.

One thing about Loveless of which I am ambivalent is the violence.  Artist Marcelo Frusin stages all of it in interesting ways, as if trying to create a graphical impression similar to that of film.  In spite of that, the violence is sometimes tedious, to the point where instead of raising the ante, it just wears down the story.

Marcelo Frusin and colorist Patricia Mulvihill deliver some pretty art.  In fact, the art is so good looking that the violence, the depictions of rape, and the portrayal of corpses (in various stages of damage and decay) seem odd, even out of place.

On the back cover of Loveless: A Kin of Homecoming is a quote from what is likely a favorable review.  The quote mentions the term “spaghetti western,” which Loveless is not.  Loveless, at least in the beginning, is a Western historical drama.  It is more like one of those old Western television series from the 1950s and 60s (but with explicit violence, profanity, and sex) than it is like a Sergio Leone-Clint Eastwood film … or even like Django Unchained, a truer heir to Leone and Eastwood.

I plan to read the rest of Loveless.  I am curious to see how this series turned out before being cancelled.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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