By Zack Quaintance — It all ends here...unfortunately. I can’t help but feel like this story deserved to be longer. Clearly, there were plans for that at some point. The solicit for Crude #6 says END OF STORY ARC, not end of series. But, alas, writer Steve Orlando’s note in the back of this comic makes it pretty clear that our story has now ended, and, really, so too does the action on the page.
Crude hit its emotional heights last issue, with a revelatory chapter in which the protagonist finally got what he really wanted all along—a better idea of who his son was and what his son’s life was like. Throughout this series there has been somewhat of a duality, a physical plotline in which the main character battles the actual villains, thugs, and conspiracies responsible for his son’s murder with his highly-skilled fists; and an unseen subconscious struggle the main character has waged against guilt he felt over being dishonest with his son about who he was.
It’s been a powerful book, to be sure. There are surface level lessons about acceptance, but those stories are ones that have been told quite frequently in recent years. How Crude sets itself apart is with the case it makes for familial honesty. The exact nature of the secrets that our father and son duo kept from each other matter less as our story progresses. Piotr is not guilty per se about having been a government tough, and when he learns of his son’s bi-sexuality he’s accepting. It’s the lack of emotional courage that kept them from being honest with each other that engendered the deep guilt and regret, not the nature of their lives.
And it’s actually this notion that makes me most regret we won’t get more issues of Crude. It’s an intriguing one rarely (if ever) tackled by such a macho story. I’d have liked to have seen it tackled at a slower pace. Orlando and the art team of Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge, however, do a great job here of wrapping up the physical action on the page, making it both satisfying and cathartic. The foil for Piotr is aggressively awful right up to the point our hero doles out his comeuppance. It’s a classic revenge plot resolution, executed to perfection by skilled creators. I just wish we could have seen more of the lead-up and aftermath, of what Piotr’s life and grieving will be like.
Overall: A cathartic and fitting end to a book that packed as much of an emotional punch as it did a physical one. This final issue felt a bit compressed, but the creative team should still be proud of the emotional journey it put its protagonist through. If you missed out on Crude as a monthly comic, I HIGHLY recommend picking it up in trade. 9.0/10
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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.