Violent Love Proves It Has A Heart Of Gold In Its Finale

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Image-published series Violent Love careened to a conclusion this week at the end of a driving pace in telling the tale of Daisy Jane, her quest for revenge, her lost love Rock, and pursuing the fate of a few other characters as well.

My own take on the premise of the story–that we are driven to our passions by the suffering we face in life–was explosively spelled out in the series, and honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure it needed more than that to make the narrative meaningful. Just seeing how an essentially “good kid”, Daisy, could be driven to extreme violence and indomitable strength by the force of her desire to avenge her father, was a powerful story to me. Writer Frank Barbiere deserves big praise for the way in which he presented this trajectory for Daisy, and the simple fact that very few revenge narratives allow a female character this much grit, drive, and development without relying on cliches or fetishism. In fact, this is probably the most accomplished writing of Barbiere’s career so far.

Fans are far more likely, understandably, to focus on Victor Santos’ revelatory artwork on Violent Love. It would be impossible not to do so. It’s so in-your-face that half the time you’re probably looking for blood spatter on your own clothing after reading an issue. The features of Santos’ artwork that drew readers to his style in Polar, particularly (soon to be a film) are even more developed and accentuated in Violent Love–the almost flattened surfaces, the exaggerated angles, and the mad and wild use of color and contouring to create atmosphere. Let’s not forget the governing force of human facial expressions to evoke iconic moods, too.

That’s the series for you, and makes it essential reading from 2017. But the finale of the series–which I will attempt not to spoil for you, readers, is going to knock you on your ass. Not because you don’t see the elements in that story coming–though there are some big surprises–but because there’s a transformative effect to the themes of the whole series in the last issue’s narrative. Once you do read the finale, the experience will change your former view of the story to the point that you will gradually become more and more aware of this in the day or two following.

Is that too esoteric a way of saying it? It’s a slow burn, basically. And you’ll just keep returning to the story in you mind later, thinking, “God damn that was a good story”.
What I thought was a story about the nature of vengeance, and a person strong enough to take on its poisonous influence and follow that road as far as it can go, turned out to be a story of winning something back from that abyss. And that’s a hard fight. That’s the new message of Violent Love for me. And I hope it will be for you, too.
Thanks to Frank Barbiere and Victor Santos for a wonderful comic series this year, and here’s to seeing Violent Love in many of “best of the year” lists for 2017.
Violent Love #10 and the first trade collection of the series is currently available from Image Comics.

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