Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless

Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so pleased with Brubaker and Phillips’s Coward that I rushed out to get this one. I liked the idea of a bed-time “classic noir film” told entirely in comic book form.

If not for that enthusiasm, I might be gushing about this one. It does have a solid story, and Philips’s illustrations work just as well. In fact, when Leo, Coward’s protagonist, makes a cameo here, it feels a bit like seeing a favorite actor in a new movie.

This story is a little thinner than the last, though. Lawless is simply too tough, too canny, and his hunger for revenge is fairly one-dimensional next to what he might have been.

It’s not a put-down to say this reminds me a little of the Marvin chapters of Frank Miller’s Sin City, but Criminal (this series) feels as it should be more nuanced, less over-the-top than Marv or Sin City. (And, perhaps by coincidence, Miller writes the introduction to this volume.) Sin City is a comic book brilliantly blown up to the big screen. Criminal is old school noir rendered in pen and ink.

Anyway, it’s interesting to see the web of interconnection grew here, and I imagine future Criminal stories will call on some of these same stories and have at least a scene or two in the Undertow Bar.

I imagine the third of these is still pretty solid – as this one is – but I think it’s become less likely that this will turn out to be a whole succession of riveting stories. Solid and good is not bad; it’s just a bit of a let-down after such a strong first volume.

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