Published: December, 2019
Written by: Art Thibert, Pamela Thibert, Taylor Grosso
Art by: Art Thibert, Periya Pillai, Hack Shack Color
Image Comics/Extreme Studios (original run), Hack Shack Studios, 52 Pages
I had the old issues of Art Thibert’s Black and White back when Image published them in 1993. I barely remembered the series but I did always like Thibert’s art, especially his X-Men stuff.
So when I saw that he was crowdfunding a remastered version of that old creation of his, I figured I’d back it and get reacquainted with these characters.
Overall, this was an energetic and nice read. This version of the book looks really good and it is improved upon.
I wasn’t quite expecting it to end in the middle of the story but I also backed this awhile ago and I might have forgotten that detail. So there is a second volume coming out in the future, which will complete the story. When that happens, I’m not sure, as Thibert is currently working on another project called Chrono Mechanics.
As far as the story goes, I found it pretty interesting but it reads like a lot of the other early Image superhero stuff. It feels as if it doesn’t know where it’s going and it’s trying to find its footing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was a bit shaky in its early issues. I would definitely say that this is better than Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, which I always thought was poorly written. So for early Image stuff, I’d say that this is somewhere in the middle.
I liked the characters but I also didn’t feel like I was given enough material to fully understand them, which doesn’t do much in generating excitement over the eventual second volume.
Still, this did a decent job of laying some groundwork for future exploration. However, I’m not sure if Thibert wants to keep this series going or if the second part will just be the actual end of it.
Pairs well with: other early Image and Valiant superhero comics.
Published: August 7th, 2019 – November 6th, 2019
Written by: Dan Watters
Art by: Dani, Brad Simpson
Image Comics, 142 Pages
When I first saw that this series was coming out, I added it to my pull list.
The main reason is that I loved the art style. It’s well drawn with a unique style and the colors reminded me of something very giallo-esque.
Also, the story looked like it was a sort of mashup of the gothic horror and neo-western genres.
Now I absolutely loved the art, which was illustrated by Dani and colored by Brad Simpson. But it’s the story that mostly didn’t work for me.
This comic is full of cool ideas and concepts but I found the story hard to follow and a little too outside of the box that it became distracting and hard to focus on some of the details.
Frankly, I was looking for that piece to grasp onto but I just couldn’t find it and from a narrative standpoint, this fell flat and seemed kind of aimless and as if it were struggling to find itself.
And this is coming from a guy that loves really weird shit.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll give the followup miniseries a shot. I’ll probably wait until I hear some feedback from other people I trust.
Pairs well with: most of the modern Image Comics stuff.
From Strip Panel Naked’s YouTube description: On this episode I look at how colorists have adapted to Sean Phillips’ work over the years, from Sleeper to Criminal to The Fade Out, Kill or be Killed, and the new Criminal series. Seeing how the search for a more expressionist look finally landed with Jacob Phillips and his painterly approach.
Published: January 28th, 2015
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips, Val Staples
Marvel Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 143 Pages
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.
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the Criminal anthology series, as well as other crime comics by Ed Brubaker.
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Michael Lark, Sean Phillips
Vertigo Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 132 Pages
I’ve been catching up on a lot of Ed Burbaker’s crime comics because I missed a lot of the old ones and because it is the month of Noirvember.
Scene of the Crime was the comic that put him on the map. It led to him working on Gotham Central and also paved the way for his future crime comics like Criminal, Kill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Fatale, just to name a few.
This one was highly regarded at the time that it came out and while it is pretty good, it isn’t my favorite of the Brubaker lot.
I can see how he developed his style here and it is a good, solid and competent story but it didn’t capture my attention like The Fade Out or Kill Or Be Killed did.
At its core, this is a noir tale set in contemporary times that sees a young private detective try to locate a girl that’s gone missing. However, he finds her fairly quickly, she’s then killed and we’re then treated to a pretty grandiose mystery story with lots of layers and twists.
This is a really dark tale but fans of Brubaker’s crime work shouldn’t expect anything different. I can’t go into more detail without feeling like I’d spoil too much but this is a pretty decent read with solid art by Brubaker’s top collaborators Michael Lark and Sean Phillips.
Despite this not being my favorite, it is still a good comic miniseries and a solid tale in the crime and noir genres.
Pairs well with: Ed Brubaker’s other crime comics.
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image Comics, 582 Pages
I have yet to steer myself wrong with Ed Brubaker’s crime comics. And like most of the others, this one has a very strong noir vibe to it.
This seems to have more in common with Fatale than The Fade Out, as it has some supernatural elements in it. Or what one initially presumes is supernatural. In the end, it’s not really clear but that’s kind of what’s cool about this twenty issue comic book series.
First of all, the series’ vigilante “hero” has some serious mental health issues. In fact, the demon he sees could very well be a figment of his imagination.
But there is a demon here and whether or not he’s real kind of doesn’t matter. The demon claims to have saved Dylan from a suicide attempt and in return, tells Dylan that he has to pay his debt by taking the life or a terrible person, once a month. Otherwise, he will become deathly ill and die.
Dylan is obviously resistant to this but ultimately, gets really damn good at it. So in a way, this is kind of like a combination of Death Note and The Punisher. But it still feels wholly original, even if it feels like it was strongly influenced by both of those things.
My only real issue with the series is that the conclusion felt kind of abrupt. As if this was supposed to go on beyond twenty issues but Brubaker decided to move on to other projects. And I can’t really call the ending a satisfying one.
But what really captivated me more than the story, was the creative team. Every time Brubaker works with Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser, we are guaranteed a comic series that works on every level.
While not my favorite comic from this team, it is still a damn good one and my eyes were glued to every page.
Pairs well with: other crime comics by Ed Brubaker.