Review – Criminal #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artwork: Sean Phillips
Colours: Jacob Phillips
Release Date: 9th January 2019

CRIMINAL is back and this latest entry in the ongoing, dark, gritty and no-holds-barred crime series sees the return of Teeg Lawless, unexpectedly released on bail in the spring of 1988. Unfortunately for Teeg, Ricky crossed a line whilst securing the money to spring his father from jail, forcing Teeg down a path where this time, the sins of the child will ultimately be paid for by the sins of father.

In the film Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Jason Statham espouses the statement “If you want to know how to do a drug deal, you watch Scarface”. I’m not Jason Statham, but if it helps, imagine I’m bald and I’ll give you my best cockney accent and cheeky chappy smile as I tell you “If you want to know how to write a crime thriller, you read Criminal!”

Back in 2006, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips first introduced us to CRIMINAL, arguably – in my humble opinion at least – the greatest crime thriller ever written in comic format.  And in the intervening years we’ve had eight intertwined but equally standalone Graphic Novels including their latest hit OGN My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies. In a world where there are comics that cater for pretty much every genre, there are still remarkably few pure Crime series out there and the ones that I can genuinely say have had an impact on me have predominantly been from this creative team.

Where this differs from the previous CRIMINAL stories is that this won’t be a standalone OGN. Brubaker & Phillips have decided to go down a different road this time and are writing an open-ended series that could include single issue stories, multiple part stories, different time periods and a rotating cast. Based on comments made by the creators, It seems like Brubaker and Phillips are taking a well-deserved opportunity to let their minds wander and have some fun keeping us guessing and on our toes.

If I’m honest, Criminal isn’t my favourite of Brubaker & Phillips’ work, that honour is reserved for FATALE, which is one of the greatest combinations of Noir and Lovecraftian fiction I’ve ever read, BUT, what Fatale (and every other Brubaker/Phillips collaboration I’ve ever read, for that matter) have in common is the consistently great writing and art. This new story is no different, and I automatically found myself back in the comforting, familiar arms of the Lawless family and the gritty, seedy world they inhabit.

It takes something really special for the same creative team to produce such a consistently incredible body of work on the same title for almost fifteen years but that is exactly what Brubaker & Phillips have done and they show absolutely no sign of slowing down.

Score: 4.5/5.



The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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