Vids I Dig 190: Comic Tropes: ‘Criminal’: How Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Tackle Noir

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips formed one of my personal favorite creative teams in comics. Since 2006, they’ve been releasing crime stories in their series Criminal. This video looks at their partnership and the noir tropes they utilize to make their comics.

Comic Review: Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward

Published: January 28th, 2015
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips, Val Staples

Marvel Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 143 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a lot of Ed Brubaker’s crime comics up to this point but I still hadn’t picked up an issue or trade paperback of Criminal. So what better place to start than the first collected volume?

The story pretty much starts off with a bang and gives a lot of insight into the main character, his background and his personal motivations. It doesn’t take long before he is roped into a heist, which brings in a bunch of unsavory characters.

Like most crime stories with a noir flavor, there are twists and swerves.

Up until the heist, I wasn’t sold on this story. It started out okay but it doesn’t really come alive until the heist pops off and turns into an absolute clusterfuck full of rules being broken and double crosses.

It’s the heist itself and everything that happens after that makes this story so great. The first act was merely used for setup but once you get to the end of that act, everything goes high octane and then the characters develop quite beautifully.

The second and third acts are superb, mainly because the story veers into a direction you don’t expect and because Brubaker did such a stupendous job at making you care about the two main people in the story.

The danger feels real and the stakes are incredibly high and if this is how Criminal starts, I can’t wait to read the other stories in this neo-noir, crime anthology.

I loved this book and a lot of the credit also has to go to the fabulous art of Sean Phillips, who is always the perfect creative partner for Brubaker’s crime tales.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the Criminal anthology series, as well as other crime comics by Ed Brubaker.