Piotr and Valentina are a Russian couple with a son named Kirilchik. Piotr is secretly a hitman known as Kolovrat. Kirilchik grows up, discovers he is bisexual, and feels restrained in their hometown of Vladimir. He moves away to a town called Blackstone. A year later, his body is brought back to Vladimir, and Piotr comes out of retirement to hunt down those responsible for his son’s death.
Crude is shooting to be a revenge tale in the vein of John Wick, Death Wish, and other stories where a man is brought to violence by the death of a loved one. Crude aims to be a detective tale and a journey of self-discovery for both Piotr and Kirilchik. The former learns who his son was, and the latter learns who he is.
That’s an interesting premise; it’s more than just a revenge story. It’s about a man who is restrained by the town and the government that rejects his sexual identity, and it’s about a man learning the secret life his son lived.
The problem lies in the fact that the plot structure is jumbled, characters aren’t distinct enough from one another, and there’s no real cohesion in how the events are presented. Scenes bleed into one another without reason. Kirilchik and Piotr look and behave like one another. There’s no sense of flow, tension, or through-line. The result is a story where you struggle to tell characters apart, what’s happening, why it’s happening, or when it’s happening. In other words, you don’t have the who, the what, the when, or the why. You have the where, but that barely matters.
Garry Brown’s artwork unfortunately does the story no favors. While there is something to be said about the gritty aesthetic it bestows upon the comic, the principal characters just look too much alike. Brown’s artwork thrives upon distinct body types, hair styles, and broad physical differences. That’s not present here, so we are left confused about the characters. Lee Loughridge’s color work succeeds in setting up the atmosphere of a cold, cruel, and unforgiving world, but even that adds to the problem of scenes blending together.
Crude #1 is a story with a lot of promise but hobbled execution. The story, characters, and order of events are all muddled beyond reason, and you will likely leave the comic frustrated and with more questions than when you began reading it. I can’t recommend this one. Give it a pass.
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