THAT TEXAS BLOOD #5, available from Image Comics on November 4th, takes Randy down a dark, bloody path as Sheriff Joe finds a clue to Travis’ killer. Written by Chris Condon and drawn by Jacob Phillips, this issue is the series’s bloodiest so far.
In the writer’s notes, Condon reveals the cover was unintentionally inspired by an iconic scene from Halloween (1978), but given the content of this issue, it works better as an inspiration from the film Misery (1990). Randy’s backlit outline stands out in blood-red contrast to the killing that occurred in the last issue. He wears a look of callous, malicious energy when he’s focused past the reader to whatever grisly scene lies at the bottom of the steps. It’s a powerful image from Phillips.
A good crime noir has to have a few key elements in it to make it work. One of those elements is an absolute low point for the main protagonist. Here, Randy is definitely at a low point with his own investigation into his brother’s murder, his relationship with his girlfriend, and his own moral standing.
Condon’s story is so effective because you feel bad for what Randy’s going through but are simultaneously repulsed by the callousness of his actions. Only through the progress in Sheriff Joe’s own investigation is the reader given any blessed relief from sharing in Randy’s downward spiral. Condon’s writing is as fascinating as it is painful.
Phillips’ grounded style centers the realism of Randy’s actions, the aftermath, and the unwelcome surprise later in the issue. With every panel, you can see the burden of what Randy’s done weigh on his face when he looks in the mirror. The defeated way he slumps in a chair exudes defeat and surrender.
Randy’s spent years away from his home town, and Phillips expertly shows he’s visibly dejected by how quickly all his betterment is tossed away in just a few days. This issue is all about internal angst, and Phillips gives it to you in spades.
This issue is effectively black and white, but Phillips wisely colors groupings of pages and panels with a specific filter to help aid the story’s visual flow. Each scene is cast in its own hue to separate the settings, giving the reader a trigger for the change in mood for what’s happening. It’s an excellent use of color for mood setting.
Phillips’ lettering work is generally good. The conversation flows and leads the reader’s eye in the right direction. Word balloon placement is excellent, and the copious amounts of the dialog are broken up well, preventing it from becoming massive walls of texts. There could be some improvement in the leading (space between text lines) as some of the text tended to look very close to overlapping and crowded—other than that, a nice lettering job by Phillips.
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #5, available from Image Comics on November 4th, drives a man into a downward spiral of inner conflict and murder. The story is dramatic, and the art is brimming with mood. Issue five is another excellent entry in this series.