Criminal vol 2, #1

Criminal is one of those rare books that really embraces crime fiction. There are some other very notable ones as well, but since the latest run of Criminal: Vol. 2 #1 just came out today that’s what I’m going to talk about.

First, the art. Back in the eighties I did some things that were illegal. Nothing really big time, or even worth mentioning other than the fact that they were usually preceded by the ingestion of something illegal. But to the point, my memories of the eighties are that they were
happy and slightly edgy. In truth what I remember is a bit hazy, like a crowded smoky bar. I can see across the room, but not every detail is clear at first glance.
That’s kind of what the art in Criminal is for me, a look through a smoky bar, dark and a bit grainy. It makes me pause and look closer.
And when I look closer what it does is evoke a feeling, a feeling of maybe a bit of danger, of something just under the surface ready to explode in anger. AND what this wonderful art also does is fit perfectly with the words.

The words in this book are a wonder to behold. I think part of this is because it feels like ease-dropping on a conversation or like we’re part of a surveillance team with all access. Brubaker writes dialogue like someone who was at the event and remembers what was said. Every character and every emotion is genuine. There really isn’t a whole wasted words here, enough to get the point across and get your imagination running. And isn’t that what any good book should do?

This first issue lets us in on the life of one Jake Brown, son of a mob enforcer who worked for a powerful family. As he gorws older he goes his own way while his childhood friend, son of the boss heads into the family business. The worlds they live in now circle each other but don’t really mix well. By the end of th issue things have happened that can’t be undone.

Criminal is an amazing book. A depth of character that should take more words but doesn’t need them because of the terrific art work. The story is ageless and it is dark and sad and energetic and perfect. Brubaker and Phillips could very well have been born a generation or two later
than they should have been, because what they are doing here reveals that they both have old souls, souls with a past.

If you are new to Criminal pick up the two trades that are out already, Criminal: Lawless and Criminal: Coward.

Added bonus, an article by Duane Swierczynski on the David Goodis book Burglar