Thursday, April 01, 2010

Criminal


A few years ago, I wrote Crime comics complaining that there were no good crime comics out there. I think I gave up around that time for a while.

I've since written a couple of times about Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke, but I've sadly still never taken the time to give a full review. Mostly because I've struggled for a way to transcribe my pathetic awed drooling into words.

The Hunter by Richard Stark or the movies based on it, Point Blank by John Boorman and Payback by Brian Helgeland, then I highly recommending this adaptation. It honestly is a revelation.

Cooke is supposed to be doing two follow-ups. The next full adaptation will be of The Outfit, and is scheduled for later this year.

Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face explains that a one chapter prelude with some events from the second book, The Man with the Getaway Face, will be coming out in the interim and also be included in the longer novel version. I will probably, in my impatience, pick that up, if I can.

I'm curious what the third full adaptation will be. Personally, I'm rooting for The Seventh.

What I really missed is Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips with colors by Val Staples, which began just a few short months after that post. Frankly, this is exactly the book I'd been hoping to stumble onto on those visits to Seattle comic book stores back in the summer of 2006.

Now, I'm a proud owner Criminal: The Deluxe Edition, a beautiful hardcover collection of the first three runs of the book, as well as two essays by Brubaker, one on Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past and another on Johnnie To, as well as gorgeous Phillips art that had accompanied essays by other in the single issues of the comic.

I also have the trade paperback of Criminal: Bad Night, the fourth run, and will pick up Criminal: The Sinners later this month. I look forward to being able to replace them someday with a similar deluxe edition.

The series features various self-contained stories, none of which is anything less than a delight of old-fashioned hard boiled storytelling on its own. They also casually - but carefully - intersect each other like a vast seedy Robert Altman movie.

None of these stories are about criminal masterminds. These are people caught up in an "undertow" of crime. The stories are all about one crime, but they manage to weave the calamities of life that led them, almost inevitably to their fates.

I'm struggling for a way to write about it without simply piling superlative upon superlative, but it really is the book that I'd long ago dreamed would exist. It's smart, tense, funny and filled with art that captures the truth of the characters and the places in which they exist.

It's a terrific book that I know has gotten plenty of attention, but I can only hope can get more. I look forward to reading more and more of what Brubaker and Philips manage to do with this world.

Frankly, Criminal is the only reason I buy anything not published by IDW with any regularity these days.


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