Brian Azzarello’s ongoing American Civil War story Loveless slips into a groove with this second book. What seemed like disparate characters in the first volume start to intertwine, as Wes Cutter takes up his position as Sheriff of Blackwater.
The first half of this volume does a bit more scene setting, with individual chapters getting deeper into the characters and their histories. The second half consists of one story, in which Cutter initiates an investigation around the savage murder of a local and his wife. Not all is as it seems though – the locals don’t like the arbitrarily appointed Sheriff and the war veteran’s policing methods leave a lot to be desired.
Azzarello continues to use his ‘living flashback’ technique to swell the back-story and it remains a tad confusing, as characters watch ghosts of their former selves recreate moments in the past. As before though, some of it is about getting used to the style and it isn’t the barrier to understanding that it felt like on first reading of the previous volume.
The plot and script are as brutal as the times they portray, with Azzarello and his artists showing no sign of flinching from depictions of horrific mutilation. It’s not gratuitous because it feels authentic, but it helps to firmly place the book into the ‘mature reader’ category.
The violence is sporadic if deadly, though a fugue of deadly menace hangs over the book like an impending storm cloud, and the random nature of violence and death is brought home hard. But with a twist in its tail, by the end of the book you’ll be hard pressed not to be begging for the next instalment, wondering exactly what Azzarello has in mind for the next chapter in the story of the town of Blackwater.
Other titles in the Loveless series: