Issue #3 of Steve Orlando and Garry Brown’s Crude starts to find its way again after a second issue that I felt pulled us too far away from the central story. It set up the ins and outs of a world that dramatically didn’t need to be set up yet.
Piotr is a father in grieving who has found his way to Blackstone, an industrial city in the middle of Russia. His son Kiril, who had grown distant over the years, returned from Blackstone in a body bag. Piotr is a killer by trade, ex-KGB. He’s in Blackstone to figure out who his son was and what would have gotten him killed. He’s also using this as an opportunity to take out some aggression, and he will have plenty of opportunity. Blackstone is built on the concept of hard labor and unquestioned hard living. Unlike in the rest of Russia, which punishes you for being gay, here, you can be whatever you want. Blackstone is also being controlled by two main factions who seem to be at war with each other; Kiril may have gotten himself mixed up in this war.
This third issue feels like it should have been the second issue, as some of that raw emotion from the first issue begins to dig its way into the reader again, and we get to know the environment from Piotr’s point of view, instead of through expansive exposition. Piotr walks through Blackstone pulling behind him a ghostly casket with an apparition of Kiril as a child, both weighing him down. It’s a beautiful image and a tragic one. It’s how Piotr wants to think of Kiril.
Piotr has started working; he’s found a rhythm in this world and wonders why his son would ever have come here. By the end of the third issue, Piotr’s innocent version of Kiril has been shaken. In this heightened environment and storyline, the look on Piotr’s face is strikingly relatable.
The beautiful imagery, together with perfectly chosen words, finds moments that break your heart. The central story alone is enough for me to want to keep reading; it’s enough to drive the story forward. So, I’ll continue forward.
Creative Team: Steve Orlando (writer, creator), Garry Brown (artist, creator), Lee Loughridge (colors), Thomas Mauer (letters), Arielle Basich (associate editor), Jon Moisan (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
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