Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Criminal: The Sinners #1
Icon (Marvel) Comics
Brubaker & Phillips
Criminal returns with another story centering around the character of Tracy Lawless. This comic definitely alludes to previous story arcs with Lawless, but having prior knowledge of the character is not necessary. Tracy is a failed hitman in this story and his boss gives him a chance to redeem himself by giving him a mystery to solve. As Tracy investigates the case he finds that the case is anything but straight forward. It’s an excellent beginning to an arc.
The beginning of the issue shows us the current state of Tracy. He is given various guys to whack, but instead of just carrying out the deed, he ends up researching each person before deciding whether or not to kill them. These opening scenes not only establish that Tracy is a terrible hitman, but it also shows the reader how he is able investigate and track people. This comes in handy when he is given a case to solve.
After Tracy’s boss confronts him about killing some, but not all of his assigned hits, he offers him a way to repent. Tracy’s boss’ territory seems to be getting infringed upon by a new, unknown, outfit. They are leaving their mark by knocking off some of the other small time crooks in the territory. Tracy must find the people responsible for the unsanctioned hits.
Tracy embarks on the task and discovers some interesting details about the victims. The comic ends with Tracy stumped, while developments around him are setting up to derail his investigation.
The story is excellent. For the most part the only real dialogue tasks place when Tracy is given the offer to track down the murderer. The rest of the comic is mostly narrative monologue from Tracy’s standpoint. It works well to give the reader insight into his mind, but it also puts his words to the visuals the reader can interpret on their own. It’s a brilliant way to introduce a character’s thoughts about various scenes without coming out and blatantly pointing at objects in the room and describing them.
The artwork is tremendous. Sure, Tracy looks a lot like characters you might find in Sleeper or Incognito, but it’s the other characters that make the comic unique. It helps that the characters are typically placed in violent situations that makes them stand out so much. The coloring and shading gives the comic a terrific dark feeling but not to the point of making it creepy. The comic feels like the story is dealing with shady people, which is very fitting.
The comic also includes an essay about a Sam Peckinpah movie which is absolutely outstanding. It also includes the usual column from Ed Brubaker and then an interview with Brubaker, Darwne Cooke and Tom Spurgeon.
There is a lot to like about the comic. The character development is rapid and deep. The artwork is dense, dark and moody. The story is straight forward, but with twists in the plot are looming. The comic provides real extras, not just cover galleries or pencils. This is truly a comic book worth checking out if you have any interest at all in crime dramas that are told in a character driven setting. This was an excellent first issue to this arc.
4.5 out of 5 geek goggles