It would be easy to compare Violent Love to the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Natural Born Killers, and Romeo and Juliet. The parallels are definitely there, but honestly this comic doesn’t need to be compared to any other works. In fact, doing so would be a disservice to the creators. Frank J. Barbiere and Victor Santos have crafted a tale so enthralling that it deserves to stand on its own. Yes, this story pays homage to the classics, but it does so while still feeling fresh and wholly original.
Violent Love is the story of Rock Bradley and Daisy Jane, a couple whose love left a legendary trail of death and destruction in its wake. It’s shaping up to be an action packed thrill ride, but first Barbiere and Santos are taking the time to give these characters their due and show what makes them tick. This first issue, entitled “The Ballad of Daisy Jane,” is an origin story of sorts, and a masterful one at that.
The book’s cover reads “crime/romance,” but “tragedy” may be a more suitable category. There looks be a lot of fun along the way, but through all the guns and violence, deep down this is going to be a story about loss and what people are capable of when they have nothing left to lose. Readers are treated to just a taste of that depth in issue one, and it hits like a freight train. Huge credit goes to Frank Barbiere for that impact; he’s created characters so interesting that people are invested in their well-being after just 30 pages.
However, Victor Santos’ art is what truly brings Violent Love to life. You can remove Barbiere’s words completely and still follow along without missing a beat; that’s how strong the visual storytelling is. Santos makes the players feel classic in a Darwyn Cooke kind of way, and the world around them gritty and mean. His layouts pop with a cinematic quality (complete with beautiful title cards), and his use of color – especially red – makes for epic tableaus.
The Bottom Line
Barbiere and Santos just joined Brubaker and Phillips as one of comics’ great noir teams.
Violent Love #1 is everything you expect it to be and more. If you only buy one comic on November 9th, make it this one.