Hey folks, Tad here chipping in with another “Super-Fly Reads” column, this time showcasing CRIMINAL from Marvel’s Icon imprint.
Comics are usually at their best when they reach back to their pulp genre roots to tell a good story with a timeless feel. Perhaps the most timeless thing in all of human history? Crime. CRIMINAL, written by Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Marvels Project, Daredevil, Incognito) with art by Sean Phillips (Marvel Zombies, Sleeper, Incognito), is more of a place and state of being than it is a single ongoing story. Each story arc stands alone from the others, yet still connected in a shared universe. Side characters from one story become the leads in others. The same bar is visited at various points in time throughout the various stories. Each story spotlights characters down on their luck or on their last chance and trying desperately to survive. There have been four volumes of CRIMINAL collected thus far, each spotlighting a different story with the kind of harsh realism and twists and turns that only the best kind of noir stroytelling can achive.
“Coward” is the story of a career criminal looking trying to manuever his way into the perfect score. He just has to make his way through backstabbing partners, crooked cops and the mob if he’s going to survive. In “Lawless,” a Gulf War vet coming home to get revenge on whoever killed his little brother. “The Dead and the Dying” is about two men, one black, one white, who were best friends growing up and then made the mistake of falling for the same girl, especially when one of them is the son of a mob boss and has something to prove. “Bad Night” tells the tale of a man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and finds himself falling for the wrong girl and trapped in a maze of betrayal and murder that may twist back upon his own shady, forgotten past. All available as trade paperback collections, “Coward,” “Lawless,” and “The Dead and the Dying” are also available in a large format hardcover that also collects many of the essays, interviews and reviews about the very best in the history of crime fiction that were only available in the individual issues of the series.
CRIMINAL is currently on its fifth story “The Sinners,” which continues the excellent storytelling that has earned Ed Brubaker the Eisner and Harvey awards two years in a row and has earned critical acclaim from Entertainment Weekly, IGN, David Goyer, Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, and The Onion AV Club.
If you love a dark tale of crime and murder, CRIMINAL is a must-read.