Overview

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1

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Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1

Credits

  • Words: Ed Brubaker
  • Art: Sean Phillips
  • Colors: Val Staples
  • Story Title: The Last of the Innocent
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics/Icon
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jun 1, 2011

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal is a book that, like the crime and horror comics of days gone by, delivers exactly what it sounds like it’s going to deliver, crime. The world of Criminal is that of your favorite crime clichés, the sleazy crooks, dirty cops, and seductive femme fatales, but they’re all written into believable yarns that make them feel fresh, while still celebrating the beauty of classic crime literature. Since Brubaker relaunched the series, each arc has been broken up to signify that while the universe is cohesive, these really are their own stories, and this month’s The Last of the Innocent follows the same formula.

If you haven’t read an issue of Criminal before, let me first say that this is a wonderful place to start. From this first issue, no outstanding plots are addressed from previous series, and the characters introduced are completely new. The Last of the Innocent deals with Riley Richards, a small-town nobody who married rich, and seems to have fallen into some interesting things since he moved to the big city. The issue is built around his returning to his hometown to visit his ailing father, and his realization as to what he needs to change in his life. Riley’s life is told in flashbacks, using old school Archie style art to tell tales of days (slightly) more innocent. Through these flashbacks, we really get a sense of the character and how he perceives the world, especially during a scene where he falls asleep reading the same old crime comics that this series is so tastefully paying homage to.

Sean Phillips does a wonderful job on the art in this issue, switching back and forth between his usual gritty noir style and the charming Archie style of flashbacks, it becomes one seamless experience where you’re not left guessing what’s present day and what isn’t. By the time Brubaker drops the final line on you, you’re already so invested in Riley and his life that it almost comes as a complete shock. But without that big moment, well, it just wouldn’t be Criminal.

Last of the Innocent, just one issue in, may end up being one of the best books of the year. Between Brubaker’s strong writing and Phillips’ slick pencils and diverse styles, Criminal has always been a series that doesn’t disappoint, but this one may be the best yet.

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