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Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1 [Review]

The Last of the Innocent part 1

By: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
With: Val Staples
Published by: Icon/Marvel

I’d pretty much forgotten the existence of this title. It seems to be a series of mini-series, each serving as a particular character or story arc. I’ve never disliked an issue I’ve read, but one of the best things about Criminal is the same thing that’s kept me from getting invested: the stories are full. Read just one issue, and there’s a full enough story there that it’s almost hard to believe the thing continues.

This issue follows Riley as he journeys back to his hometown to see his father before a risky surgery, and reconnecting with old friends and old memories. Of course, the trip nicely coincides with an itch to get away from debt he owes to some legbreakers and provides a chance to grab some quick cash to pay them off.

The story itself is very down to earth and realistic. No superpowers, no superheroics, no supervillains, no world-conquering invading armies, no wars or proclaimed crises of any kind. The characters are all believable if not stereotypical, and there’s some great allusion that serves to add even more depth to these characters and at one point left me actually laughing at picturing the alluded-to character acting in this way.

The art is simple yet detailed. It doesn’t try to be photorealistic, and simply depicts the characters. And the flashbacks being done in an even simpler style of old comic strips (in the vein of Archie, most recognizably to me) adds to the sense of layering and allusion.

The end of the issue is both ending–stopped here, it leaves plenty to the imagination. But it also–since it DOES promise more–piques the curiosity and leaves me wondering what comes next, especially for a book called Criminal, from Brubaker.

There may be some stuff here that I’m simply not getting, references or characters from some previous story. But if there is, I don’t see it, and I’d say it’s non-essential. I picked this up cold, and enjoyed it for itself. This is a brand new story, a brand new #1, and a great jumping-on point. All you need to know, I’d say, is that this is a creator-owned property from Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, about very realistic people in a realistic world, if a bit noir-ish, and that the title Criminal fits the content.

Highly recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

One Response

  1. […] got the premiere of the new iteration of Brubaker and Phillips‘ Criminal title. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of this title in the past (and particularly remember the 10th anniversary issue!) so definitely giving this issue a […]

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