Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CRIMINAL VOL. 1: COWARD by Ed Brubaker

This year, I decided to download the Comixology app and jump back into reading graphic novels and comic books, which I was a big fan of when I was a wee lad. Back then, I was more into the superhero reads but now I wanted to venture into more reality based, "non-super" stories. In my search, the name Ed Brubaker kept popping up, and I thought, "Hey isn't that the dude that wrote some Captain America stuff and a few Batman stories?" Then I decided to drop some dough on his work and give them a go, the first of which is his first book in the Criminal series.

For the few that don't know, the series is a set of stand-alone but loosely connected noir tales that take place in the same city. This first volume, Coward, is a heist story about a meticulously picky career thief and pickpocket who reluctantly takes a shady armored car job, and of course it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

For those who dismiss graphic fiction as simply colorful books about Avengers, Superman, and skimpy Japanese anime, I submit this as Exhibit A as to why you're wrong. This is classic crime noir, a pulp offering of burnt-out criminals, crooked cops, regrettable pasts, and a whole lot of desperation. The writing is solid, and I could definitely see more first-time comic readers  really enjoying this story if they tried it. At first, I didn't like the artwork, having gotten used to the crisper, sharper, more colorful 1990's art that I grew up with, but then by the end, I grew to love it. The rounder, rougher, grungier artwork is perfectly suited to the atmosphere and I can't wait to jump into the world of Criminal again for the next installment.


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