Created and Written by: Rick Remender
Illustrated by: Greg Tocchini
Lettered by: Rus Wooten
Every now and again a story comes along that encapsulates the very essence of human violence. The Last Days of American Crime is just such a chilling tale. Violence, sex, overindulgence, every vice and crime are on full display, and gorgeously illustrated! Remender and Tocchini have crafted a great heist story. Yes, another heist story! But, this one shouldn’t be discounted along with every other one in recent memory — I mean really it’s been done to death. Why though? Because it’s not only well written, but comes up with a clever premise. Not convinced yet? Not impressed by the news that there’s a movie being made? Then read on!
So what’s this clever premise? It’s the near-future and in a desperate move to put a stop to domestic crime and terrorism the US government will begin broadcasting a signal within its borders that will neurologically make it impossible for people to knowingly break the law. Two weeks prior to the broadcast going live, it’s revealed by reporters a-la-Watergate. Chaos follows and everyone is eager to engage in some final crime-doing. This could be something as simple as drugs, or prostitution, but in our case it’s a heist.
The lead character is Graham Bricke, a man familiar with crime, and who has cooked up a brilliant little heist. As it were the US government is also working towards phasing out paper currency — under the claim that it will work to prevent crime, but mostly to distract the population from seeking further information about the upcoming broadcast. Anyway, charge machines will be used in this transition, and Graham has come up with a way to steal one, thus embezzling millions of dollars. Naturally he can’t do this alone — enter, Kevin Cash and his finacee Shelby. It only gets more complicated from here, since everyone is playing everyone, and the lies and violence quickly mount up.
The story beats that follow are familiar, but it’s the telling that makes for an awesome story. Remender marries a good premise with the overused idea of a heist, and makes it all work by crafting some really compelling characters. It’s so well done that I didn’t even mind when it’s predictably revealed that the broadcast doesn’t affect clinical sociopaths. Everyone has a back-story, and it’s never flaunted in the reader’s face, rather it’s seamlessly worked into the narrative. Remender reveals layer after layer effortlessly, and in the process terminally grips the reader until the very end.
And then there’s Greg Tocchini… I recently wrote a review of X-Force where I expressed my displeasure with his art. I hold by the fact that his style is not well suited for that particular story, but here? Here, he blew my mind. The man outdoes himself, and the end result is amazing. It’s his art that sealed the deal and fully sold me on this comic-book. He frames the action perfectly, and more importantly, he does something really special. His style feels very cinematic and true to life, but isn’t — it’s a wonderful trick. In reality his lines are otherworldly, and when the action really cuts loose, the mixture of color and movement make for a mesmerizing sight. It’s truly well done, and it’s a great example of how you can utilize the medium to tell and show a good story.
I’m late in saying this, since The Last Days of American Crime was published a while ago, but it bears repeating. This is a really great comic-book. It’s no wonder that a movie is forthcoming. I’m not sure it can really capture the magic that Remender and Tocchini have created here (how do you convey Tocchini’s art in a movie?), but it’s still exciting in its own way. Either way, this comic-book is well worth reading.