Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artwork: Sean Phillips
Colours: Jacob Phillips
Release Date: 21st August 2019
Noir is one of those strange genres that isn’t really a genre anymore. It’s more of a tone, an idea, a style. It’s also something that Ed Brubaker was basically born to write, and Sean Phillips was born to draw. Now seven issues into an ongoing incarnation of their “Criminal” series, it’s in my opinion their best work to date. Every issue delivers a different story which is still somehow in the same overall arc as the others, with different genres being used, but all still falling under that pulp/noir vibe.
Issue seven sees us back with Ricky Lawless for a tale that, at its heart, will speak to a lot of different readers. Dad gets new girlfriend, dad changes, kid doesn’t like it. It’s just a bit different when your dad is a failed criminal like Teeg Lawless.
The father/son team of Sean and Jake Phillips are on their regular top form here, with a familiar use of darkness and shadows to bring life to the story. With not as much action as previous issues, it would be easy for them to take a step back here. Instead there is the tiniest attention to detail to make every page shine, and every face almost annoyingly expressive.
Jake Philips especially shines in this latest ongoing series, with his unashamed use of brighter colours bringing a different palette to this iteration than the previous ones, but still managing to fit in the tone. There has been a lot of pink used so far, and I’m digging it!
Not much can be said about Ed Brubaker’s writing that hasn’t been said by many before. Here, he’s created a story that arcs back to the very first Criminal series, and is continuing to be fresh with an ongoing. Characters seem organic, the dialogue is genuine, and there’s a love of the genre that shines through on every page.
My only gripe is that even though every issue is readable as a standalone, I feel it works far greater as a whole piece. By far the best value book on the stands today, and a grimy look at society that manages to be both timely and timeless.