Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Criminal: The Last of Innocent #1
Icon (Marvel Comics)
Brubaker & Phillips
Criminal is back with a new arc and a bit of a different type of story with the first issue of the “Last of the Innocent” story. Normally these stores are all great but for the most part they have followed the same pattern as they looked solely at the underbelly of some seedy city filled with shady characters. This story arc takes on more of a normal, everyday looking set-up. The characters don’t appear to be criminals, but more of the regular folk that have relatively normal, boring lives. However, the thread of crime is in the book, particularly in the end, as one of the characters starts to cross the line into that murky world. The artwork is terrific as Phillips breaks out in a way I haven’t seen before. Add in the back matter of Brubaker’s thoughts and an essay and you have a healthy read for your money.
The book is simple enough: a man returns to his home town to attend a funeral and is thrust back in with his old cronies. The interaction between the characters is natural and fluid and is reminiscent of Happy Days or Archie, though full of drinking and drugs. Mixing in with this are flashbacks which brings me to the discussion of Phillips’ art.
Usually, this series has dark characters and dark settings. However, this is not your normal criminal setting and group of unlikable characters. Phillips shifts gears and gives a brighter and more lively looking book. Additionally, Phillips switches his style to look more like the aforementioned Archie look when he draws the flashbacks. It’s a brilliant presentation and really helps to push the normal boundaries that Phillips fans may be used to. With work like this it’s tough to argue that Phillips isn’t versatile and that this book just has a stock style to it.
As the comic provides more information about the characters we begin to see some cracks in the relationships. Eventually one of the characters decides to take matters into their own hands and it begins the descent into what is sure to be a murder attempt.
The joy of the book, besides the artwork, is the pace. Brubaker rolls out several characters, introduces their relationships, sets up the protagonists and antagonists and then flips everything upside down in the end. Brubaker could have dragged this first issue into two or three but doesn’t and it clearly works in his favor because this issue was a fast and satisfying read.
Criminal is a series where each arc is its own jumping on point. However, this arc is different than all the rest because you don’t have to be a hardcore noir or crime fan to enjoy this read. This book manages to present a different kind of story that should hopefully be more appealing to a wider audience. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and highly recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different than the usual capes and cowls book.
4.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles