Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its fifty-first choice, Criminal: The Deluxe Edition, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Criminal: The Deluxe Edition
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Ed Brubaker continues to be probably the best mainstream comic writer to emerge in the past fifteen years. He has a rare ability to switch from superheroics to hardboiled thrillers. Criminal, his occasional series from Image, created with Sean Phillips, is a brilliant slice of a hardbitten world, where women usually betray you and your friends will stab you in the back without a moment’s thought.
Criminal: The Deluxe Edition is a whopping 432 page monster that represents Volume 1 #1-10 and Volume 2#1-3 of the series, accompanied by Brubaker’s fascinating essays on subjects like Out Of The Past and John Woo plus page roughs and covers from Phillips. Brubaker has writing in his blood as his uncle John Paxton wrote a number of notable noir films including Crossfire, Murder My Sweet and The Wild One. Artist and collaborator Sean Phillips’ contributions must not be overlooked here too: he has a real knack for storytelling but is equally at home creating dynamic single images. Colourist Val Staples also lends a richness to Philips’ art with a rich and subtle colour palette. The first story, Coward, is a classic robbery-gone-wrong tale with thief Leo returning home and joining a gang to carry out what appears to be at first glance a simple robbery. The second story, Lawless, deals with Broderick Lawless out to avenge his dead brother. But even a seasoned pro like Lawless can find himself out of his depth.
There is something so simple and primal, yet so universal about Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal that it can’t help but strike a chord with the reader. These are stories of the sort that we’ve seen a million times from Chandler, Hammett and Spillane and yet they manage to invest them with something fresh and new. This Deluxe Edition also packs a punch that a paperback couldn’t.
Criminal is also the equal of the best crime on TV and on the big screen thanks to the fantastic ongoing chemistry between the creative team and the visual magic of Phillips’ simple linework.
Brubaker and Phillips have become one of the finest writer-artist teams of the last two decades and Criminal showcases them at the top of their game.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far