Comic book creator Rick Remender doesn't shy away from hard-luck heroes. Whether it's alcoholic spaceman Heath Huston from his sci-fi series "Fear Agent" or the undead porn-pushers of "XXXombies," Remender appears to have an affinity for questionably aligned characters. In his new series from Radical Publishing, "The Last Days of American Crime," Remender looks to continue that exploration of uncertain heroes in a world where doing the right thing is not only enforced by law, but will soon be impossible not to do.
"I took that Orwellian world to the Nth degree and came up with an idea where the government has discovered a frequency that basically hinders a human from doing anything they know to be unlawful," explained Remender of his vision for America in the year 2016. "Basically, this frequency makes it impossible for you to jaywalk, steal, cheat on your spouse... If you know it's unlawful, you can't do it. But two weeks before they throw the switch, The Washington Post breaks the story and the country goes crazy."
Enter the story's aforementioned hard-luck hero, Graham Brick, and the last crime he'll ever need -- or be able -- to commit.
Read on for an exclusive preview of "The Last Days of American Crime" and more about the upcoming series.
"To distract everyone from their 'American Freedom Initiative' signal, [the government] has been transitioning from paper money to cards, where all financial transactions take place on plastic," said Remender. "Graham Brick is a down-on-his-luck loser who has been working as a security guard at one of the facilities where they charge the cards with money, and he plans to steal one of these machines. A hacker would set it to an infinite loop and they'd go off to the Bahamas and be able to charge endless amounts of money."
And while Brick is content to bide his time and take the plan slowly, news of the upcoming anti-crime signal forces him to pull together a team of criminals on short notice to assist with the caper amid all of the ensuing chaos.
"You've got mass exodus to Canada and Mexico -- anybody with money is getting out, and people without money are rioting in the streets," explained Remender. "Then you have a lot of people who are caught up in doing all the things they won't be able to do in two weeks. Basically, you've got two weeks left to do anything you know is going to be illegal, and to fulfill any greasy fantasy you have."
Click on the image above for a preview of "The Last Days of American Crime," featuring character designs, sketches and two covers for issue #1. Interior art for the series is provided by Greg Tocchini, with cover art by Tocchini and Joel Dos Reis.
According to Remender, it's that chaotic environment that he was going for from the start with this story, and which forms one of its most important elements.
"Initially it came from an idea for a story taking place during World War I as a band of German soldiers had gone AWOL and were starting to steal paintings and stuff," said Remender. "I realized that this had been done before in a number of different incarnations, but i really liked the idea of chaos that came with the war. So, it was three or four years ago, deep in the middle of the Bush administration, when it seemed like everybody was gladly giving away their personal freedoms and liberties in exchange for this imaginary idea of safety, that it came together."
And thus, the idea for the last great heist in American history was born, according to Remender.
"With the world stage in chaos, [Brick] has two weeks to steal this thing," the writer explained, "and if he doesn't do it in that time, he'll never be able to do it again."
While the first issue of "The Last Days of American Crime" hits shelves later this year, Remender has already been tagged to write a screenplay for the film version of his story. As with many of Radical's titles, the story is being aggressively marketed as a potential film property as well as a comic book.
"I've agreed to write the screenplay, so this year I'm going to be neck-deep in the story," said Remender. "There are going to be a lot of 'Last Days of American Crime' days for me."
Like what you've read thus far? Don't miss our exclusive preview of "The Last Days of American Crime," featuring interior art by Greg Tocchini, with cover art by Tocchini and Joel Dos Reis. You can find out more about this and other series from Radical at their panel this Saturday, Feb. 7, at New York Comic Con.