Criminal: Coward

Criminal: Coward

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Ed Brubaker, By (author) Sean Phillips

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  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 128 pages
  • Dimensions: 170mm x 258mm x 7mm | 320g
  • Publication date: 23 June 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845766105
  • ISBN 13: 9781845766108
  • Illustrations note: colour comic strip
  • Sales rank: 52,963

Product description

"Criminal" is a series of knife-sharp, noir-tinged tales about the people who live on the wrong side of the law. In "Coward", the first storyline, pickpocket Leo - a man who always leaves himself a way out - finds himself in over his head when he's dragged into a dangerous heist, and winds up getting too close to a burnt-out former junkie. Torn between his instinct to run and his emotions, can he stay out of harm's way? By award-winning writer Ed Brubaker ("Gotham Central") and acclaimed artist Sean Phillips ("Marvel Zombies"), this gritty take on society's underbelly has been critically acclaimed and a commercial smash - it'd be criminal to miss it!

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Author information

Ed Brubaker is a Harvey award-winning writer whose work includes Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, The Dead Boy Detectives, Deadenders, Gotham Central, The Immortal Iron Fist, Lowlife, Scene of the Crime, Sleeper and Uncanny X-Men. Sean Phillips is an acclaimed UK-based artist who began his career with 2000AD. His work also includes Batman, Black Widow, Hellblazer, The Invisibles, Judge Dredd, Marvel Zombies, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Uncanny X-Men, and Wildcats.

Customer reviews

By 365 Graphic Novels 21 Jul 2012 4

Before superheroes people read comics about crime. Proper old-school noir comics which featured the words gumshoe and caper. That genre has all but disappeared but makes a welcome return here.

Fusing old school Dick Tracy and original Oceans' Eleven with modern day examples such as Heat and Pulp Fiction this tale is a real treat. Told in the classic style of alternating third-person action with first person narration we follow a lone criminal with a code who undertakes one last heist which goes as wrong as they always do.

It twist and turns then shocks and awes you but always in moderation and only when appropriate. Overall the pacing is unhurried and the central monologue does a great job of slowing the pace and building up tension. It is a tale that has been told a thousand times but this is certainly one of the better recitals. There are just enough hints at the past to flesh out the central character and you certainly grow to like him quickly. Other than an all too convenient character introduction that feels a bit leftfield this is an excellent work. As a standalone story the writer has the freedom to really shake things up and doesn't pull any punches.

The art is appropriate to the style pushing the dim and dingy to the max and using heavy black shadows and thick outlines copiously. It definitely feels like vintage Batman era stuff. There isn't a lot of detail but the characters are all well defined and there are some great facial expressions when necessary. It sticks rigidly to the three tier grid system with many thin panels per line packing a lot in per page. Virtually every panel has a person and speech in it yet it never feels too wordy or cluttered. Noir is all about dramatic and relevant conversation and this hits the nail on the head.

There is also a tale within a tale with the occasional appearance of a newspaper strip featuring a private detective. It's not the Black Freighter of Watchmen but a nice little in-joke for those who care to smile at it.

Other than a well plotted narrative there are some nice nods to previous classics with a great Italian Job reference. This is a very worthwhile read that ticks all the boxes. Thumbs Up!

Review quote

"Criminal's co-creators are at the top of their game, and the result is solid, absorbing crime comics from cover to cover." - The Comics Journal "A sharp, smart comic that rises above the genre's cliches to create something fresh and exciting... one of the best new series of 2006." - Penn Patriot-News"