Ever since his run on the revamped early 2000s Catwoman series, I have been in love with Ed Brubaker.
After branching out into Fatale and Velvet, both of which I loved, I decided to go back and check out some of his earlier stuff.
Unfortunately, the first volume of Criminal did not catch my fancy. It’s about a thief who’s never been caught because he always runs away.
The writing isn’t bad, but it’s not on fire like some of Brubaker’s other work. I also don’t think this is artist Sean Phillips’s best work. He uses dark shades and lots of shadows, but it lacks that sense of foreboding atmosphere that pervades every panel of Fatale.
This is your basic, run of the mill, master thief story. A guy who’s so good he can’t be caught has “retired” (or in this case, demoted himself to only stealing rich people’s credit cards) and must be enticed back into action to score a big deal by a one-time collaborator. He’s convinced, eventually, and plans the heist. Something always goes wrong, of course.
I didn’t actually make it that far. I was too bored. It’s a story I’ve seen over and over again, and this version didn’t offer anything compelling to get me behind the main character. I felt like I figured him out from after the first page, and that makes for a supremely uninteresting story.
(Did you notice all the Brubaker comics I really like are about women? There are no women in the first volume of Criminal, which always raises a red flag for me. Brubaker has done enough other comics starring women that I’m not going to give him hell for excluding women in Criminal, but that’s another strike against the series.)