Criminal volume 4: “Bad Night”
Marvel Comics / Icon
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
FC, 120 pgs
$14.99 US / Higher in Canada
First off, I am a superhero guy. More importantly, I am a DC superhero guy. So when I was listening to one of the many comic pod casts around Christmas time and they suggested that Criminal volume 2: The Dead and the Dying was one of the best books of 2008, I was a bit skeptical. It wasn’t DC. And it wasn’t superhero. But, in my attempts to become a well-rounded reader, I jotted down the name and promised myself that I would ask about it next Wednesday when I popped into my local comic shop.
After I picked up my file books last week and did my usual walk around, I asked Shane Hnetka, a contributor to this site, if they happened to carry Criminal and if he thought it was any good. What I got next was one of the most passionate recommendations for a book and creative team that I have ever heard. Now, while I don’t always believe Shane (he reads Marvel regularily) and what he says is great, I felt that the two recommendations might have some merit.
This is what storytelling is all about! I’m a story guy. Art is very important to me, but without a story, I don’t care how great a book is. This has both! The art is not what I would call detailed in terms of background layout, but what they capture is emotion; Fright, anger, disgust, distrust is portrayed in every panel. And wonderfully at that! Criminal’s story is outstanding. Each volume is a stand-alone tale, while a few characters carry over from storyline to storyline. But it’s not necessary to get all the issues to make sense of a story arc. But trust me, once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read them all!
With Bad Night, we follow the character of Jacob Kurtz, a character who has the worst luck I think I have ever seen. The edition follows how this sad sack of a man, who just wanted to read the paper to ensure his comic strip made it to press correctly, finds himself spending the night with an amazingly beautiful but flawed red head. How is that bad luck? Through her, he gets dragged into the underbelly of police corruption, vendettas, and criminal conspiracy. Or so we think. As with all the Criminal editions, there is a great twist that develops. I won’t ruin the story for you, but trust me; you’ll know when it hits!
If you haven’t read this series, get it now. Shane wasn’t wrong! But don’t let him know I told you. (Logan Drydale)