Criminal #1 is pretty much what you would expect from this title, with an emphasis on crime and its repercussions by two leading creators.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have a huge back catalog of comics and graphic novels, that includes work for DC, Wildstorm, and IDW. The writer and artist team have produced some amazing work, including Sleeper, Gotham Noir, and Kill Or Be Killed, and they have just released Issue #1 of the 8th, yes 8th, volume of Criminal.
I haven’t read all of their output, but the great thing about Criminal #1 is you don’t have to. Sure, the stories all take place in the same continuity, and characters overlap and feed into other volumes, but the writing is so smooth that you don’t need any previous knowledge to enjoy any of the individual volumes.
This first issue is pretty much what you would expect from this title. The emphasis is on crime and repercussions and the book opens in 1988, and a break-in at a mysterious old man’s house by a wayward teen. When he is rumbled by the owner of the house, the culprit thinks on his feet and uses the owner’s confused state of mind against him.
However, when the deception takes a nasty turn, and the young thief makes a play for a valuable piece of jewelry, all hell breaks loose and sets off a series of events that kick-starts this entry into Criminal canon.
Ed Brubaker is very at home with Criminal and these sorts of stories. You can tell that he is clearly enjoying the process, and his layered storytelling and interweaving characters are all obviously close to his heart. The story itself is very film noir, and that is exactly what the creators seem to have aimed for.
It’s rare a writing and artist team work so seamlessly together, but Sean Phillips is completely on board with the writing here, and his style shows an understanding of his writing partner’s work down to the very last detail. The pair has worked so closely together, that I imagine they both have an almost telepathic link now about how page layouts, panels, and characters look.
Criminal #1 is out now from Image Comics, and if you have never read any of these stories, it’s a great place to start. If you really enjoy it, there’s an amazing back catalog that you can spend the rest of the year picking up and enjoying.