Piotr Petrovich has arrived in Blackstone to find a desiccated town ruled by warring gangs. Petropinnacle keeps its heel on the throat of the people while Meshe Adam is another power-hungry gang that claims to be a revolutionary movement. Both are potentially guilty in Piotr's eyes, and he will go through them both if they had anything to do with what happened to his son.
Much of Crude #2 is dedicated to establishing Petropinnacle and Meshe Adam. Despite the unique angle of Meshe Adam's self-styling, they are just another pair of Russian gangs in this installment.
This issue is, thankfully, far more straightforward in its presentation. There is no skipping around in time, and Piotr Petrovich is the only focus of the comic, even if we do spend a bit too much time with the gangs.
The comic gets rolling in the second half when Piotr clashes with Petropinnacle like an unarmed Punisher. The comic regains its focus here too, because Piotr knows that these gangs are the best leads he has on the murder of his son.
That does leave the first half a bit of a meandering slog, but the overall product is a vast improvement on Crude #1.
Garry Brown's artwork can flourish more too. With a clear line on what is going on from the writing, his artwork can be as gritty and muddled as needed. That sounds like damning with fine praise, but his art really is well-suited to this narrative and its gritty, grimy, bloody scenes. Lee Loughridge complements Brown with his similarly dirty and rough color palette that makes Blackstone look like a large petri dish.
Crude #2 still has a few problems, but it's far better than the inaugural issue. The story is more coherent, the action is more compelling, and we have more focus to propel the plot forward. Brown and Loughridge do solid work on the visuals too. This one gets a recommendation, even if it isn't required reading. Feel free to check it out Wednesday.