Criminal #2


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Criminal #2


  • Words: Ed Brubaker
  • Art: Sean Phillips
  • Inks: Sean Phillips
  • Colors: Val Staples
  • Story Title: A Wolf Among Wolves
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Apr 9, 2008

Something remarkable happens in the twelfth issue of Brubaker’s Icon book - it takes on a life of its own.

Teeg Lawless returns from War. The pressures of the memories of his service, his past and a mundane home life take their toll and lead him down a dark path.

Brubaker and Phillips’ book has been highly lauded and while it has been very good, I would hesitate to call it great. Sometimes being a derivative work can harm itself. I have read too much Ellroy and Leonard to be truly impressed by the comic book equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino version of their work.

For all the masterpiece hyperbole, the book has filled a niche of media that has gone unfilled in the serial graphic narrative. It’s noirish tendencies and labored character study made it prime for the reception with which the critics and general reading public have received it.

In this issue, Brubaker rises to said hyperbole and writes the book everyone else has been claiming existed. There is a familiar and comfortable cadence to the narrative this time. Teeg’s inner monologue flows like one of the great crime writers is voicing him.

Add to this the fact that all the references to hints about his life in the previous eleven issues and the book takes off. This is really what the book needed. It is now definitively part of its own unique universe. Teeg is the tie that binds all that came before and his story enriches all those stories as well.

It is indicative of a very thorough writer. Brubaker has obviously planned this story out really well. It is a brave thing to do really, with books always on the cutting block, doing something so fundamentally different from the rest of what is on the market is risky in itself. But to plan it out so well that it takes 12 issues worth of material to really flesh out the setting of these stories, that is the mark of a bold writer who knows that his story has to be told.

Phillips’ art has been the high spot to me in the whole series thus far, and he does not fail when the script turns out to be such a winner. In fact, he appears to have stepped up his game as well. Peeking out from Staples’ colors is an emotional content in the drawings that has been missing before.

This unveils an actually compelling character from behind the curtain of the neon lights and smoke filled bars. It is a sign that the rich characterization of the previous storylines was merely a warm up for this most important story. The art takes on the feel of the prose and transcends what was before to become something special.

This book is a treat for the careful reader. If you haven’t given Criminal a chance, this is the best jumping on point for which one could hope. It is a early frontrunner in my opinion for book of the year. Read this, and whether you are new or old to the book, you will want to read the first eleven issues.

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