More Tales of Dixie : Brian Azzarello – “Loveless”

I’m real torn about Brian Azzarello’s short-lived, little-loved Western / Southern, “Loveless.” “Loveless” concerns the strange relationship between Wes Cutter, ( a Civil-War-prisoner turned Sheriff of a doomed town called Blackwater) and his mysterious wife Ruth. They’re Missourians with grievances against a despicable Union army. Yes, they’re Confederate but not racist, “they hate everyone equally” we’re reassured… And that’s about the only reassurance you can expect from this bleak, nihilistic Spaghetti Noir.

ABOVE: I’m gonna say it: WHAT A TERRIBLE TITLE FOR A WESTERN COMIC!

On the one hand, I do like Azzarello, despite what I said about “Before Watchmen: The Comedian.” I’ll freely admit I was prejudiced against that whole enterprise, but “100 Bullets” is an old favorite, and his work for “Hellblazer” was as hot as Azzarello is cool. I like that he writes in tough, dirty, philosophical bursts. His unsparing portrayal of the Union’s gutting of the South after the Civil War is certainly less romantic than E. L. Doctorow’s in “The March.”

On the other hand, is EVERYONE in these gritty post-“Deadwood” Westerns bent on out-cussin’ Al Swearengen?

ABOVE:  “Are all these $%$#^&s going to $@#$% all the %$*^# emptiness of %@#$ existence?”

On the one hand, I love Marcelo Frusin’s art. ( Werther Dell’Edera and Danijel Zezeli also help out.)

On the other hand, their work owes more to Spaghetti Westerns than to any American reality. The character designs are… I guess the word is “Italianate.” This wouldn’t have been any kind of a problem except that it adds one more layer of removal to something that has enough cynical detachment as it is.

On the one hand, I’m down with a little pessimism, and Azzarello dishes it. Check out this particularly pungent Creation myth:

“I’m gonna tell you something else, an’ you’ll do good not to forget it, ’cause it’s straight from the Bible: People are shit. Sure, it reads that when God created Adam, he breathed life into clay, but he’d already made the beasts of the field, an’ if it’s one thing you can count on them to do, is shit. So when the Lord reached down, he didn’t pull up no clay, but a handful a’ shit. Dog shit, cow shit, pig shit, horse shit … chicken shit… it don’t matter. It was shit. Just shit. And he fashioned man out of it.”

On the OTHER hand, why so serious? The whole thing really IS kind of loveless. I couldn’t get any emotional grip on any of the characters. Bleakness has its charms, but when one’s asked to spend a lot of time with a townful of disagreeable folk, ( not ONE decent person in Blackwater? ) there’s a chance one will catch the next coach out of the locality… which I did after issue 15.

“Loveless” was cancelled on issue 24.

How many hands was that? It’s a hard %#@#$ world, pardner. Gotta know when to fold ’em.

ABOVE: Very Cotton Edge

RATING: Technically GOOD ENOUGH but I found myself giving a SHRUG.

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2 thoughts on “More Tales of Dixie : Brian Azzarello – “Loveless”

  1. Pingback: What’s So Civil About War? : Raoul Cauvin – “The Bluecoats” | THE PAGEAHOLIC

  2. Pingback: Orient Express : Mike Carey – “Midnight Crossing” | THE PAGEAHOLIC

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