Criminal (2019-) #2
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Sean Phillips & Jacob Phillips
Since Criminal is the first work I’ve ever read of the Brubaker-Phillips team-up, I feel obligated to state I regret not picking up any of their other books before. This is still the perfect pairing for a noir tale as the current releases continue to show.
On the second issue of the new Criminal series iteration, we pick up in a very different setting from the first issue’s ending. Nine years after those events (issue #1 took place in 1988), the reader is presented a man, Jacob, who is being requested to be his old mentor’s “minder”. Jacob used to be the assistant to legendary comic book artist Hal Crane and appears to be very uncomfortable with the idea of being around Crane. As the story goes forward, the reader is shown just how distressed anyone would be caring for a man with Hal Crane’s general behavior.
For someone who had never read any of Brubaker’s books, I was delighted to get a taste of his writing in the first two issues of this series. Focusing mostly on internal dialogue or narration, Brubaker delivers the reader that noir feeling. But that’s barely all of it. Although the issue contains plenty of exposition panels and flashbacks, the story is not at all held back since said exposition is either directly related to the situation shown in the panel or made during a silent drive from one point to another. An interesting trait of the storytelling is how Brubaker introduces us to two characters in the same way. We get to know Jacob because we get to read his thoughts about Hal and we get to know Hal in the same manner. These aspects of Brubaker’s storytelling are evidence of how much of a competent writer he is.
The art for this issue maintains the level of quality any reader would expect from Sean Phillips, in this series counting on his son for the coloring. As if it was easy to them, the art team makes every panel of the comic feel like a painting on
Every single one of the characters’ expressions presented by Sean are crystal clear about how they feel, utilizing of expression lines in character’s faces turning the portrayal realistic and complementing the story perfectly. Another amazing trait of the artwork is the choice of colors. As the story progresses and Hal shows his less friendly side more and more, the color pallet goes from a shiny day, composed of warm opaque colors, to a dark night, depicted using cold tones and giving the characters a certain shimmer to indicate artificial lighting in the scene.
Criminal would be worth the read even if it was just about getting to know the creative team’s capabilities since it feels like a one-off with no correlation with issue #1 yet. Terrific writing along with a spectacular artwork makes me glad that I picked this up and anxious for more.
Criminal (2019-) #2
Criminal would be worth the read even if it was just about getting to know the creative team's capabilities. Terrific writing along with a spectacular artwork makes me glad that I picked this up and even more anxious for the next installment.