THAT TEXAS BLOOD #6, available from Image Comics on December 2nd, solves the mystery of Travis’ murder, but not without a bloody cost. Chris Condon concludes the first arc of the series by highlighting the toll memory, anger, and regret can take on a person.
Jacob Philips created a strong cover for this final issue in the arc. Randy sits in a chair, looking at the reader, contemplating his next move with a gun in hand. The bright red pool of blood provides an eye-catching contrast. The cat lazily strolling by adds some curiosity to what’s going on, but Randy’s facial expression is unclear. Is he angry? Is he ambivalent? It’s tough to tell, and that brings the impact of the cover down.
Condon spent the previous 5 issues (check out our review for issue #5 here) putting Randy on a hot pan and slowly turning up the heat. You could feel the tension of the town rising by degrees with every single page as Randy crosses paths with the local gangsters and unsavory elements. Each time coming away from them a little more beaten down and resigned to the fact that he never really left the town and all the bad that comes with it.
Travis’ murderer and the circumstances of his death are wrapped up in a neat little bow. Randy metes out some well-earned “justice,” but when the Sheriff’s investigation and Randy’s inflicted retribution intersect, we learn that serious mistakes were made. It all goes horribly wrong.
It’s a satisfying conclusion to the arc in terms of connecting all the dots, but the finale felt anti-climatic. Randy’s decision to take action came off as numb or disconnected, but maybe that was the intent. All the simmering from the previous issues leads you to believe there’s going to be a big bang, but Condon doesn’t quite pay off the built-up energy. It’s a solid conclusion that fell a little flat.
Jacob Phillips has been consistently good throughout the series, and this issue is no exception. There’s a lot of little character moments in this issue where the postures, faces, and gestures mean everything to push the panels’ emotions. Phillips nails the emotional expression right down to a simple hug.
For this reviewer, the best sequence in this issue is a scene where nothing happens at all… visually. There’s a shootout just at the halfway point that you never really see but can tell is happening (partly achieved by great lettering we’ll get to in a minute) that holds the tension and your attention with nothing more than perfect panel framing. Phillips deserves big props for the art of this series.
Consistent with the previous issue, Phillips makes great use of color to shift between different scenes and flashbacks to help move the narrative along. There’s an exciting part where Randy meets the Sheriff, and the panels alternate between red and blue to match the flashing of the police car lights that’s visually creative. Overall nice work from Phillips.
Phillips executes some excellent lettering issue, particularly with the aforementioned shootout scene. As the “camera” holds a position on the front of a saloon, it’s through the lettering and the sporadic exclamation of gunfire that you get the real impact of what’s happening. This is one of those infrequent cases where the sound lettering tells the story, and Phillips does a great job with it.
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #6, available from Image Comics on December 2nd, brings the latest bloody chapter in this town’s history to a close. This series takes a hard look at the toll of carrying the past with you and the dangers of letting the past decide your future. THAT TEXAS BLOOD is a great comic that holds up as one of the best examples of crime noir in years. I highly recommend the complete 6-issue arc.