In THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 from Image Comics, Randy’s girlfriend decides to drive on down to Texas to see what’s what, Sheriff Joe does some digging, while Randy revisits an old family haunt…and some old personal vices. What happens next? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4
Writer: Chris Condon
Artist: Jacob Phillips
Editors: Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 30th, 2020
Previously in THAT TEXAS BLOOD: Randy escaped his home town in Texas, but his brother Terry didn’t, and paid for it with his life. Back home, Randy raises all sorts of bad memories, as criminal activity emerges blinking into the sunlight. With death following in his footsteps, Randy finds he has a target pinned to his back, while Sheriff Joe desperately tries to unravel the whole ball of wax before the world goes up in flames…
TEXAS HOLD ‘EM
In the popular imagination, fostered by countless Westerns and road movies, Texas is a place larger than life, where the American Dream can be lived out just with the right amount of luck and grit. But the reality, as THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 demonstrates, is something far more different and far more darker.
Events begin moving along as Randy ventures back to the old family home, and discovers memories best left buried, along with a rediscovery of an old vice. Sheriff Joe, despite a premonition of disaster, digs into his investigation of who killed Randy’s brother, Terry. And to add complication onto complication, Randy’s girlfriend decides to leave the comforts of city living to venture south into the wastes of Texas. Nothing good will come of any of this, surely?
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 moves the plot along nicely while seeming to spin its wheels in place. There’s a long section of Randy walking around his old home, while an author’s narration conveys his mood as he examines family photos. It’s a very interesting sequence as it seems to suggest that Randy is distancing himself from his emotions by narrating his experience almost as if it was a work of fiction. The emotions, though, are recognizable and real, as the past comes back to bite Randy hard. Elsewhere, Sheriff Joe starts asking questions about Terry’s death, while experiencing a premonition of disaster. Joe is one of the more interesting characters in THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4. He looks and sounds like an old codger, a fellow nearing retirement, but dig a little deeper and you see a man committed to the cause of justice and who won’t be scared off so easily by a strange feeling in his gut.
COMPLICATIONS, OF COURSE
The main complication in THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4, is the decision of Randy’s girlfriend to come down to Texas to find out why he isn’t returning her calls. In the first issue, Randy saw a ghost, or thought he saw one, sufficient motivation to hustle down to Texas to find out what happened to his brother. His girlfriend, too, tells her friend as she is driven to the airport that she also has a bad feeling about Randy. Indeed, THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 abounds with bad feeling, which gives it a lot of weight and a sense that disaster is gathering on the horizon. His girlfriend turning up at this critical moment, after Randy slept with an old beau and returning to the drink, promises even more fireworks down the road.
Sean Phillips’ art is, as ever, arresting, a constant cascade of images that help illuminate the emotional state of the characters. Even Joe’s dinner with his wife, where he confesses to his worries, has a doomed aspect, even in the cosy domestic setting. Elsewhere in THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4, when Randy is going through his family photos, the artistry really hits you in a way that mere words surely can’t.
That said, Chris Condon’s writing is the hero of THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4. Relationships are examined, history is uncovered, and weakness exposed through some careful and thoughtful writing. The scene in the bar at the end, when Randy succumbs to the demon drink, even as he is formulating a key thought, is masterful in the way it examines character under pressure. Everything is pushed aside so Randy can just have that damned drink – common sense, personal pride – all of it pushed aside so he can give into the allure of that shot. Now that’s good writing.
BOTTOM LINE: RATCHET UP THE PRESSURE
THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 is another strong issue in a series that promises much, and has pretty much delivered. The characters and situations feel real, and the motivations of everyone involved never feel forced. Sheriff Joe is right – something bad is coming.
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That Texas Blood #4
Strong writing and strong art combine to make THAT TEXAS BLOOD #4 an essential read