In THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3, Randy finds that loves of days gone by are suddenly fresh, before he’s given an offer he cannot ignore and is driven to a meeting with Kuttner, a local ne’er do well who may or may nor have killed Randy’s brother. Did he? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3
Writer: Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips
Artist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 26th, 2020
Previously in THAT TEXAS BLOOD: Randy escaped his hometown, leaving behind his brother, Travis. Travis raised hell like you wouldn’t believe, until someone decided they didn’t like him any more, and killed him. Randy would rather drink acid than return to a place that still gives him nightmares, but blood calls to blood…
DON’T EVER GO HOME
Randy has returned home on learning his brother Travis has been killed. Randy left years ago, after running afoul of basically everyone. His brother stayed behind, raising hell until someone killed him. Unwillingly, Randy has returned, and finds himself enmeshed deeper and deeper in his memories and family history.
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3 moves the story ahead in some expected, but entertaining ways. Randy, unlike most of the townsfolk, is college educated, as the faux extracts from a story printed at the end of the issue demonstrates. He doesn’t see himself better than them, though some clearly think he believes that. But for all his education, he falls for an old flame, Sara, even though he has a significant other back home. As Condon and Phillips demonstrate, the mixture of guilt and mourning can have a pernicious effect one someone’s good judgement, to the point of betraying those closest to you.
And yet…Randy’s situation is one a lot of readers would feel familiar. For those of us who’ve had difficult upbringings that we’ve escaped, there’s a mixture of sentiment, yearning and hatred for where we’ve come from. Often it feels like you can go back and fix things the way you always wanted, whether to reignite an old flame, or see that the people who tormented you get their just desserts. The problem is, as Randy is about to find out, that you can never go back.
YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE
As ever in this series, THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3 is a wonderful mixture of writing and art. I’ve praised Jacob Phillips on this book and other stuff he’s been involved with, so let’s concentrate on Chris Condon.
Randy is clearly a writer, as I mentioned before. The way the book is narrated is not from his perspective, but from the perspective of a writer putting words into his head. The narrated sections read like a pulp book, filled with portent and the rich sense that a doom is coming, not only to Randy, but to the people of his home town. The writing, of necessity, is short and punchy, which brings with it its own sense of narrative pace and power. No long, flowery sentences (unlike this err…review!), but instead staccato observations that inform the issue and what Randy is feeling. When you read, ‘Thoughts of a brother, now dead. Thoughts of regret. Pain. Fear’ you get a greater sense of Randy’s perspective on his past and present, than any amount of character exposition would grant you.
The issue itself plays on familiar themes for noirish stories like this. Randy rekindles an old love interest, betraying his current partner in the process. A minion of a local tough sneaks into his room, waiting for him to emerge from the shower before forcing him to take a ride. The meeting with Kuttner, someone who clearly had an involvement in Travis’s murder, plays exactly as you would expect it. I’m not pointing these out to find fault with the familiar, but to demonstrate that even the tried and tested elements of a thriller like this can feel fresh and new when handled by someone with the confidence and talent as Condon. THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3 is a tough read, filled with betrayal and guilt, all the while storm clouds crowd the horizon, waiting to drown the protagonists in gallons of blood.
BOTTOM LINE: BRAVO
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #3 demonstrates the strengths of the writer and illustrator. They are working confidently with the material, building a rich tapestry of family history, old resentments and old yearnings. New elements are introduced with skill and great timing, and the sense that something terrible is going to happen is inescapable.
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That Texas Blood #3
Another strong episode in a series that one feels readers will look back on with a great deal of fondness. Sure, the elements feel familiar, but tales of family, betrayal and the promise of bloodshed tend to run in only one direction. That said, the mix of strong writing and art make this a must read for anyone interested in strong drama and the promise of bloody revenge.