REVIEW: ‘That Texas Blood,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

That Texas Blood Volume 1 - But Why Tho?

From Image comic comes That Texas Blood Volume 1. From writer Chris Condon and Criminal colorist and first-time solo artist Jacob Phillips. This on-going series breathes new life into the new-western genre from a new creative duo who I believe will soon become a recognized name in comics.

The story focuses on Joe, a mid-70s sheriff in the fictional Ambrose County, Texas whose normal day turns sour when his birthday plans take the backseat to a strange suicide. Meanwhile, we meet Randy, who returns home to Texas on the news of his brother’s death. When he is informed that foul play is suspected, he begins losing grip on his reformed self and reverts to his Ambrose roots. The first death of the book is only the tip of the iceberg for the blackhole we descend into with Randy and Joe as each party attempts to untie the knot holding this murder mystery together.

This story is the perfect example of a slow burn. Condon does a fabulous job placing a stick of dynamite in your hands and lighting the long fuse. The sense of urgency in Ambrose County is long gone. So gone that Sheriff Joe talks to his wife over the police radio and the busiest part of his day is getting a call for a rattlesnake.

Randy’s homecoming is less than welcome. His brother’s legacy is enough to tarnish his name and the denizens of Ambrose do not hesitate to show Randy how unwelcome he is. Condon does a phenomenal job with this dynamic because as a reader, you begin to feel as much of an outsider as Randy does in certain situations. The cliché of old town crime and the local law coexisting is very alive in this story, but not in a sense that seems reused. This story shows Sheriff Joe working hard against age and other obstacles to still do his job correctly.

From start to finish, That Texas Blood Volume 1 reads extremely well, and, considering the world Condon has built, each character is eerily believable. I will admit, had I read this in issues I may have just waited for the paperback. It is such a slow burn that it should be read in one sitting to maintain its level of intensity. This way you can experience the crescendo of madness in Randy and the increasing heat beneath Sheriff Joe’s boots.

Phillips truly hit a grand slam with the artwork. Due to the slow nature of this story, there are a lot of interactions and dialogue opportunities. When we are reading them, Phillips draws the most expressive and interesting moments which are only complimented by Jacob Phillips’s letters. You can really see Sheriff Joe’s years on the force in his expressions, which says a lot because there are moments where all he says is “Well.” Phillips also draws images of Randy drowning in his alcoholic madness. The letters in this book do a great job of keeping the tone throughout all of the interactions and then elevating the intensity during drastic moments of violence and gunfire.

The color palette he uses in this story works with the setting in perfect harmony. There are also several panels where Phillips uses color to emphasize emotions. Such as cold blues when Randy rekindles a romance with an old friend, deep reds in moments of anger or intensity. It all comes together to form an emotional story that walks in step with the story being told.

Overall, That Texas Blood Volume 1 is a slow-burn that shows how gritty things can be when demons resurface. If old habits die hard, old friends die harder. Any crime fiction fan should add this to their library. I genuinely look forward to more work from this duo.

That Texas Blood Volume 1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

That Texas Blood Volume 1
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, That Texas Blood Volume 1 is a slow-burn that shows how gritty things can be when demons resurface. If old habits die hard, old friends die harder. Any crime fiction fan should add this to their library. I genuinely look forward to more work from this duo.