Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comic Review: Criminal Vol. 2 Lawless

Tracy Lawless has returned home after a couple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan; back to the world he was raised in, the crime ridden streets of the city.  Tracy probably would have preferred to stay away, but someone killed his brother, and he wants to find out why.

Despite lots of family history behind the Lawless name, Tracy has an advantage in the criminal underworld in the fact that he's been gone so damn long that no one remembers his face.  Tracy's first step in finding his brother's killer is linking up with his brother's old crew, and though that might bring him one step closer to the truth, the truth might be uglier than not knowing.

Once again, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips deliver gold standard hard-bitten crime comics.  These guys are just flat out scary good at this stuff.

Though it's predecessor, Coward was an impressive feat of crime comics, I was more impressed with Lawless due to the fact that it has been cleverly crafted to fit into the world that Brubaker and Phillips created in the series opener.

Even though both Coward and Lawless can be read completely as stand-alone stories, there are little subtle touches that stand out to the reader. Side characters who seemed like throwaways take a more prominent role, familiar faces are back in familiar roles, and names just barely mentioned become leading roles in this volume.  Brubaker and Phillips have crafted an impressive, multi-layered world that I feel like I'm just now starting to get a grasp on.

With masterful craftsmanship and impressive world-building it is easy to rate this one pretty high, but there's more goodness to be had in Lawless.  Brubaker and Phillips again deliver the goods in terms of writing and art. I really think Phillips is the best possible artist for this series, as he is just really flippin' good at bringing dark and gritty to life.

Brubaker is no slouch either. Sure, crime plots can often seem a bit recycled, but Brubaker somehow gets readers to care for his criminal, low-life, unsavory characters.  That ability to make readers care about the characters makes the plots more gripping the the tension more palpable.

As impressed as I've been with this comic makin' duo in the past, I was even more impressed here. The material that I've read from the Criminal series is definitely their best work in the comics medium thus far, and it appears to be only getting better.  Not convinced yet? Do yourself a favor and go read Criminal.

Grade: A+

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