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By Brandy Dykhuizen. Life’s mundanities don’t pause in the wake of trauma.

Following all the severity depicted last month, The Violent #3 opens with a few somewhat reparative pages in which Mason slowly pieces himself back together to face the next day. Amidst dressing wounds and drinking milk straight from the carton, Adam Gorham renders for us a couple of clever panels depicting Mason sitting on the floor, idly playing with Kaitlyn’s abandoned building blocks, stacked between the detritus of empty, discarded beer cans.

Obviously if Mason wants to rebuild his life and his family, he’s going to have to lose the beer, but that’s easier said than done. The right answers appear clear as a ringing bell throughout The Violent, but human fallibility is constantly jumping in to sabotage the situation. To indulge in metaphor, Mason’s shortcomings are scattering the blocks.

In a life spent on the fringe, money is either the root of evil or a crutch leaned upon when explaining away self-destructive tendencies. It all depends on how you choose to look at it. Becky kicked her habits upon the learning she was pregnant, but missed paychecks and upcoming rent sent her spiraling back into the type of helplessness from which she only knows one escape. Even upon seeing Mason after her O.D., her first response is to fret about finances rather than ask about her daughter. Mason, however, uses his stolen $1,500 as a sort of currency of blame, trying to force Dylan to accept equal fault for their combined transgressions

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Dylan’s refusal to take his half of the money is an attempt to fend off moral culpability, retroactively struggling to keep his hands clean. Like the dog found munching on Joel’s body, Mason can smell weakness and reacts to this instability in the only way he knows how.

The Violent continues to make sure you never get comfortable with or complacent towards these characters’ plights. By exhibiting a palpable humanity in Becky and Mason (and the familiar snap-decisions that usually come with it), Ed Brisson, Adam Gorham, and Michael Garland convey one crucial thing — that these people could be any of us, if the circumstances were right and we fell on hard times. Once again wrapped up with an equally thought-provoking short story from a Vancouver writer, The Violent remains a captivating story of the cycles of survival and defeat.

Image Comics/$2.99

Written by Ed Brisson.

Art by Adam Gorham.

Colors by Michael Garland.

8 out of 10

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