Why You Should Read The Last American Crime Graphic Novel
In a future where a tank with a bunch of heavily armed soldiers is needed to guard the entrance of every bank on a daily basis, the US government announces the upcoming implementation of a signal that could paralyze anybody who has any intention to commit a criminal act. They hope this drastic measure could finally decrease the crime rate that's currently the highest its ever been since the declaration of independence.
Everybody is feeling a little tense about the announcement. After all, for a lot of people, they have no choice but to be a criminal to earn a living. But not Graham. He sees this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. He has been working as a security guard for one of the biggest banks in town for quite some time now, so he knows what needs to be done to pull one last heist in US history. All he needs is a small crew of people with a very specialized set of skills.
And that is the premise of The Last Days of American Crime. What follows is a roller coaster of intense action sequences, violence, sex, and the sense of not knowing where's the story gonna go. Imagine a more mature and chaotic Ocean 11. There are a lot of good things that could be said about The Last Days, but today I'm gonna focus on two things that stand out the most, characters and world-building.
First up, characters. Other than Graham, there are two other central characters in this story, The dazzling yet insane Kevin and the seductive yet mysterious Shelby. Much like Ocean 11, Last Days spends more time on the preparation stage than the actual or the aftermath of the heist. For more than two-thirds of the book, we will delve deep into the three characters' live. So in a sense, it is a character-driven story.
Rick Remender spends a decent amount of time to slowly pull us into the mind of each of the main characters. None of them are model citizens, in fact, all of them are definitely criminals. But as we turn each page, we come to understand why they do what they do. They are complex and flawed individuals with layers of thought and personality that will gradually be unwrapped as the story progress.
For all of those characters' development to happen, the writer slows the story down a notch. Not to the point of becoming a slow burn, but slow enough for him to show who they truly are through sequences of events and unique decisions that each character made. I even think that the heist is simply a string to connect all three of their story together. A way to gave them a mutual purpose and a reason for them to move forward towards one of the best plot twists in the history of graphic novels.
I mention about how Rick Remender deliberately slow the pace down to show and not just tell us about the characters. A big part of that "show don't tell" is elevate by Greg Tocchini's artwork. Honestly, his soft brushwork and sharp, vibrant colors grab our attention since the very first page. It is not an exaggeration to say that every panel is a work of art that deserves to be framed and hanged on your wall, but I digress.
While Remender's story moves the characters forward, Tocchini's art built the world around it. If you look closely, every panel adds some kind of information to what the world inside the story must've been like. From people beating each other up, heavily armed soldiers inspecting people, to multiple panels of people hanged while those around them wail.
The artist would draw a clear picture of the characters and other things in the foreground while giving a somewhat blurry image in the background. As if to say that our characters are so used to all of those bad things that happened around them that they're no longer notice it.
Another part of it is the composition. Greg Tocchini has an amazing way to direct our eyes towards the things that he wants us to focus the most. Whether it's Kevin going on a rampage on a rich man's house or Shelby shooting a gang leader in the head, he'll make sure that those moments will be the first thing that catches our attention.
But as soon as we peeled our eyes back and look at the surrounding things that happening around them, we will notice subtle clues that will give us a sense of what the world of The Last Days truly like, without having to read a word about it.
By the time this article is published, there will be a movie adaptation of The Last Days on Netflix. I can't comment on the quality of the movie, but what I can say is even if you have watched it, please spare your time to read this graphic novel.
Not only because the movie and the source material has a substantial amount of differences, but also because this graphic novel is a piece of work that's been carefully and deliberately craft, up to the minute details, to give you the best reading experience as possible. So give it a try, will ya?