Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A History of Violence

Written by John Wagner
Art by Vince Locke

It's pretty much impossible for a comics fan to have read everything.  I saw this recent Vertigo Crime reprinting of the old Paradox Press title A History of Violenceand was more than a little surprised to realize I'd never read it before (nor had I seen the moviedirected by David Cronenberg, despite the fact that I went through a huge Cronenberg phase back in my university days).  I figured it was time to address this - for the book at least, if not the movie.

This is a pretty decent book.  I was a big fan of John Wagner's work on Batman (written with Alan Grant), and have long recognized Vince Locke as having an important place in edgy, intelligent comics.

The book opens in some small town, where a couple of petty crooks decide to hold up Tom McKenna's diner, not expecting McKenna to fight back.  When it's all over, McKenna finds himself a local hero, with his story even making national news.  And this leads to some problems, since McKenna has been living under an assumed name for twenty years, and has been hiding from the mob.

It's not long before a trio of mob enforcers come sniffing around, and McKenna has to confront his past, and tell his wife and children about how he used to live his life.  The family drama stuff is handled very nicely, and it's easy to see why this book was chosen for film adaptation; it has all the pacing of a good Hollywood thriller.

Locke's work is nice, but much looser than I would have expected.  Much of the book looks like Guy Davis penciled it without an inker.  This approach works for most of it, but there are a few scenes where things could have been a little clearer.

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