Yesterday, I sat down with Criminal Volume 3: The Dead and the Dying, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. I actually put off reading it because I've already read all the other volumes; after this, there's no new Criminal for me to turn to. (The creators will return to the title, but I don't believe there's a firm date for that yet.)
No one is crafting a better crime comic right now. There are some terrific titles out there -- I'm just getting into Scalped, for instance -- but Criminal sets the gold standard. Haven't read it yet? Here are five reasons I think you should:
- It's authentic: The characters think, act and look like the denizens of a shady world. We've all read crime comics where every man is as handsome as Hugh Jackman, every woman is as beautiful as Jessica Biel and they're all either perfectly mannered or perfectly villainous. Problem is, such representations frequently fly in the face of reality. Honest-to-gosh real criminals can be an unsightly and unpredictable lot.
- The writing is terrific: This is something of a continuation of that first point, but it deserves to be underscored. With Criminal, Ed Brubaker is writing scripts worthy of Elmore Leonard and Jim Thompson. One thing I really like: the plots aren't Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions, which goes a long way to lighten the load on your willing suspension of disbelief.
- The art is fantastic: There's no one better suited for these tales than Phillips. The best comic artists are part actor, part director, part cinematographer and all magician. And that's exactly what you get here.
- The price is right: Times are tough and we're all watching every penny. Each volume (there are four) costs about $10 each at Amazon.
- The monthly issues contain extras: Want single issues instead of a trade paperback? You're in luck: the monthly Criminal comic features additional artwork and copy not collected in the trades.