As I’m generally a reader of comics from the Big Two comic book companies, I haven’t seen much of Christos Gage’s writing when it hasn’t concerned superheroes. This is my first exposure to his creator-owned work, and it was definitely illuminating, as I got to see a whole different side to Gage as a writer, as he tackles a comopletely different genre than superheroes. This is a classic-feeling, gritty revenge tale, as a former mob enforcer from the Las Vegas of the 1970s is drawn back into that world, as he finds himself targeted by a former employer. Forced to give up his idyllic life, he dives back into a rough world, as it’s kill or be killed.
This is a seemingly simple tale, but Gage gives it plenty of form and definition, so that it ends up being anything but. Nick Bellamy is the protagonist of the story, a mob enforcer who made mistakes in his early life, including a failed marriage and a son that his wife took far away from his lifestyle, before finding true love in Vegas. Wanting to hold onto that love, he double-crossed his boss, sending him to prison, and stole a small fortune, to live off for the rest of his life. But when his former boss gets out of jail, Nick finds himself a target for his boss’ revenge, and Nick’s life goes up in smoke, with only a desire for revenge left within him. Gage writes this book beautifully, and never wastes a word. He brilliantly captures the mindset of the protagonist, who is in his mid-70s, but still in shape, and ready to throw down when the situation calls for it. He writes the main charactesr in a very old-school mind-set, which makes the character interactions much more believeable. As much as this is a revenge tale, it’s also an interesting examination of how some things change with time, like technology, etc, but how some other things never change or go out of style, like violence and revenge. Nick is out of place in the world, as it changes around him, leaving him as a relic, but no one quite told him that. There are some twists and turns in this book that keep the story moving forward quite nicely, as the revenge tale starts to shift into a caper mode. There’s just something about Vegas and caper-stories, they go so well together.
Jorge Lucas handles the artwork in this story, and it is absolutely gorgeous, some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen from him. The art is uncoloured, and it’s a great choice, as it fits the nature of the storyline, and how Gage writes this book. Colours would have taken something away from the power of the story, a visceral sensibility. Lucas’ eye towards detail is on full display here, and makes the visuals pop and stand out quite well. Nick looks grizzled and rough, and Lucas fleshes that out wonderfully. Nick always looks his age, thanks to Lucas not prettying him up or trying to make him younger. He sticks to the script, and it’s part of what makes the visuals so captivating when partnered with the entertaining script.
This is a really enjoyable revenge/caper story, with strong lead characters, a great vibe, and some truly memorable and fantastic artwork by Jorge Lucas. I’m really glad this was released as an original hardcover, instead of being broken down into the individual chapters and put out as singles, as it’s a much stronger and more enjoyable read all in one sitting, instead of being spaced out over a number of months. This is a gritty and enjoyable tale, and well-worth checking out. It’s nice to read something that doesn’t involve superheroes, and you can’t do much better than SUNSET. Highly Recommended!