Graphic novels can depict a myriad of fantastic landscapes and hordes of alien-looking creatures, but fans of graphic novels like Ed Brubaker’s Criminal and Frank Miller’s Sin City know that graphic novels can depict more realistic and more violent tales. One such tale is Write It In Blood, written by Rory McConville with art by Joe Palmer, a tale that doesn’t need dragons or superheroes to pack a punch.

The story centers on criminal brothers Cosmo and Arthur Pryce completing one last job before their retirement: capture and bring gang leader Little Harkness to their boss. This, of course, doesn’t go as planned. While Little is trapped in the brothers’ trunk and it seems like the hard part of their task is over, the two men suddenly find themselves with very bright targets on their backs, not only from Little’s men who want to rescue him but from their own boss looking to punish Arthur for his transgressions. With two gangs bearing down on them, Cosmo and Arthur may not be able to complete their final job nor live long enough to enjoy their retirement.

Cinephiles who love action and noir should love this bloody tale of two brothers on the run and running out of time. And bloody is the best way to describe the artwork here. No one is ever going to confuse this work with a Teen title, not with the cursing McConville writes and the visceral depictions of violence that Palmer puts on the page. Bullets are flying all over this book and many of them find themselves in other people while generous amounts of blood fly out of bodies. In the story’s calmer moments, Palmer shows off his ability to depict the desolate Texas landscape that stretches before the two brothers who are slowly and inexorably driving toward their fates.

McConville’s story is merely there to move all the chess pieces toward the big shootouts, leaving behind any semblance of nuance. Panels show men and women marshaling forces, Cosmo and Arthur discussing their next moves, and some characters even negotiating for their lives. In other words, it’s a story of twists and double-crosses that moves too fast to look at the relationship of the two brothers. They have worked together for many years, and they’re brothers, but readers won’t know a whole lot about them, apart from Cosmo being the dreamer and Arthur being the screwup. One would think that Cosmo could easily sell out his sibling to at least get their boss off his back, but he doesn’t. Sure, they are related and have been joined at the hip for years, but the reader is left to wonder why Cosmo is so undyingly loyal to his albatross of a brother.

That might not matter to genre fans who simply want a blood-soaked, guns-blazing romp in the desert. While sitting squarely in the Adult section of libraries’ graphic novel sections, this book is strictly made for action fans who like gunfights, explosions, and criminals being criminals. Write It In Blood is not an exploration into the connection between two brothers who are finally getting out of a dirty business, but it should scratch the itches of those who like their entertainment violent and who love their heroes being brutal antiheroes,

Write It In Blood
By Rory McConville
Art by Joe Palmer
Image Comics, 2021
ISBN: 9781534318359

Publisher Age Rating: 16 years and up

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)

  • James

    | He/Him Circulation Librarian, Clark County Public Library


    James Gardner is a Circulation Librarian at Clark County Public Library in Kentucky. Along with writing his own stories, he reviews horror for his own blog The Foreboding Home of the Scary Librarian and other places. But graphic novels are another love of his, having grown up loving Spider-Man and the X-Men. Reviewing graphic novels is a dream gig because the graphic novel is a medium that is full of great stories. One of the best things about being a librarian is always having an excuse to read graphic novels among other books, which is because readers’ advisory depends on reading books (while advising is the other half, of course). He also enjoys role-playing games, which is another opportunity for him to immerse himself in a story.

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