For years I’ve had this book sitting on a shelf and I never got round to reading it until recently. I had previously seen the film based on the comic, but I finally thought it time to read the original source material.
I’ve always been interested in ‘what would I do?’ type situations in life. When you see news reports and try and picture yourself in the place of the bystanders or the people involved. You always like to think you would know what to do when thrown into an extraordinary situation but, in all honesty, you never know what you’d actually do without being there. This is summed up perfectly in the introduction to the version of A History of Violence that I read. The intro was written by the book’s author John Wagner, and it instantly grabbed me and started making me think.
This leads us onto the actual story and characters…..
Wow….That’s all I can really say. The story is truly engrossing and is pretty different from the film it inspired. What starts as quite a simple idea soon evolves into a far deeper tale of revenge and violence. The violence isn’t all physical either. What could have simply been a book filled with mindless violence actually reveals itself to be a strong morality play, with realistic fallout for the characters, both mentally and physically. Each of the characters feel fully fleshed out and this helps bring the reader into the world portrayed.
If I could find one real fault with the book, it would be that the final act feels kind of out of place. Where the first two acts feel pretty realistic and the events depicted carry the story at a delicately fast speed, the third just feels a little bit too ‘out there’ and rushed. It is by no means bad. It just doesn’t feel as strong as the first two acts. If anything, I would have liked it to slow down a bit and have a more naturally paced build up to the inevitable final confrontation.
All in all though, John Wagner and Vince Locke have created a masterpiece that has unjustly been hidden amongst all the usual superhero comics. I would say it’s a must read for any fans of dark stories that really focus on the simple question ‘what would you do?’ and the consequences that these actions can have on those around us.