A 250 word (or less) review of the second Criminal collection
By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Icon Comics
Lawless is the second Crime Noir masterwork by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. This time the story follows Tracy Lawless, a burn-scared special forces veteran, on a quest to find his brothers killer. To find the killer Tracy joins his brother’s old gang as a driver and, in doing so, becomes enmeshed in the life and crimes of his brother. Lawless, in proper Criminal tradition, leans heavily on Noir genre tropes of crime, vengeance, doomed romance, and the inexorable slide into chaos that occurs when events conspire against the protagonist. Unlike Coward, the first Criminal volume, which has a big action-movie quality about it, Lawless feels much smaller, character driven, and focused. The result is a story that is much more personal and textured which makes for a more relentless and engrossing read. It also feels more quintessentially noir… if that is a thing that can be said with any sort of authority. Brubakers writing in this edition is peerless; the script delivers thrills and tingle-inducing twists but is still organic and assured feeling. Phillips artwork is as moody and atmospheric as ever, and has a much more refined colour palette than that seen in Coward. Lawless, then, is a masterfully crafted comic book that tells a riveting crime noir story that comes to life on the page. This book really makes me wonder why the Crime genre of comics died out: when well executed they are every bit as interesting as any superhero comic ever was.
Word count: 247
So I Read Coward
So I Read Coward