By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; Icon Comics
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent is about Riley Richards, the all-American small-town boy, all grown up. He's a successful businessman, rich, and married to the beautiful Felicity, the rich debutante of his high school love triangle. Except Riley's marriage isn't going well, he owes money to the wrong people, and his father is dying of Cancer. And when Riley bumps into Lizzy Gordon, his other, blue-collar high school love interest, Riley wonders about the path not taken and if it's not too late to change his life. And so Riley decides to murder his fucking wife. If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it should: beneath a legally-distinct-from-copyrighted-characters facade The Last of the Innocent plays out the scenario of Archie Andrews of Archie Comics marrying Veronica, deciding to murder her to be with Betty, and the lengths he would go to get away with it. And the results of this experiment are kind of sublime: the mixture of Criminal Noir, old timey Romance Comics, and the bleed of the former into the latter is brilliant. The way The Last of the Innocent uses this thematic tension, by jumping between art and comic styles, to engage with the fickleness of nostalgia takes the perversely fun premise and adds a cerebral element that makes this one of my favourite comics. This volume of Criminal is also great to foist on non-comics friends: it features top-notch creators telling a mature and accessibly story that plays with the universally recognizable Riverdale gang.