We’re always a sucker for a great crime comic and Rory McConville and Joe Palmer’s Write It In Blood is a bit of a cracker, with the body count of a Scorsese movie and sparkling dialogue of a Coen Brothers movie, it’s a delightful tale of two brothers on the run from a mob boss when a kidnapping goes wrong.
Publisher: Rory McConville
Writer: Rory McConville
Artist: Joe Palmer
Price: $2+ via Gumroad
Cosmo and Arthur are a pair of low level goons in rural Texas. We first encounter them as they are clearing up the bodies from a job and Cosmo is boring Arthur with his plans for retirement. After this blood soaked job they have one more to complete, before Cosmo can retire from being a hired hand and buy his house and go normal. The problem is, that last job is a kidnapping of a local rival gangster and things soon take a turn for the worst when we discover Arthur has been having an affair with their boss’ wife. What follows is a classic crime tale of crosses and double crosses as the two brothers attempt to evade their boss’ pursuit and also attempt to offload their unwanted cargo before his family come after them.
Write It In Blood is a superbly crafted and expertly paced story. The ins and outs of the various relationships and plots are superbly pieced together, however it is the relationship and dialogue between the two brothers which really power the story along. Cosmo is idealistic and well intentioned, dreaming about a normal life away from his bloody present. While Arthur is the more matter of fact, yet impulsive one of the two, who is rallying against his brother’s attempts to go straight and leave this life behind. The opening scene of them clearing up the bodies perfectly introduces us to both of them as well as setting the tone for the series in a simple and highly effective manner. Describing it as Coen Brother-esque is a perfect comparison – especially when compared to Blood Simple or Fargo – as it has the same quirky and effortless dialogue and perfectly conceived yet intricate plot.
The artwork from Joe Palmer helps to really bring this perfectly conceived world together. Although best known for working on Dredd, we loved his work on his sci-fi courier comic Grind last year, and he continues the excellent work here. He balances the blood and guts of the crime scenes with wonderful characterisation. He doesn’t plunge his characters into shadow to get mood or into outrageous poses to get dynamism, yet he manages to do both effortlessly. The whole thing has a slightly vintage, worn out vibe, which again lends itself to that early Coen Brothers tone. His character design is superb, making the brothers look like classic low level henchmen, while the atmosphere for the piece is perfect, creating these very real locations which you can just sense the dustiness and dirt within them.
However his fantastic artwork would be nothing without the wonderful colours of Chris O Halloran and the lettering of Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. This is very much a book where every member of the team is adding their own unique skills to the book to create a perfectly balanced ensemble. The colours have that vintage warmth to them as well as a screen printed texture that go perfect with the hot and dusty location, while the lettering is simple and unfussy, but perfectly integrated into every panel.
It’s been a fantastic couple of months for crime comics with the likes of Palomino, Friday and Going to the Chapel fresh in our memories (along with the ever present spectre of Ed Brubaker’s Criminal) and this is every bit the equal of those fantastic series. With just 4 issues of this fantastic series coming our way, this is one of those books we cannot wait to see concluded. If only so we can sit down and re-read the whole thing again from cover to cover like a binge-watched box set. A real gem of a discovery!