Criminal: The Sinners #1 (of 5)
Marvel Comics / Icon
(a) Sean Phillips
FC, 36 pgs w/ ads $3.50 US / Higher in Canada
The greatest modern crime comic returns. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips put their Eisner award-winning comic on hold to produce Incognito, their pulpish five-issue miniseries about a super-villain living in a witness protection program. As a fan of Criminal, I was eagerly awaiting the series’ return, and the return of Tracy, the character reported to be headlining the new story arc.
Criminal: The Sinners #1 picks up Tracy’s story one year after his first appearance in Criminal (which, by the way, is collected in the trade paperback Lawless.) He is still working for Hyde as a contract killer, though Tracy is proving to be a pain in the nuts for his boss. Tracy wants to make sure his contracts deserve killing, but his employer simply wants and needs dead bodies. Hyde’s patience is wearing thin but he is willing to forget past transgressions if Tracy finds out who is behind a series of high-profile murders. There have been no witnesses, no clues, and no one in the criminal world knows who ordered the hits. “I’m not an investigator,” says Tracy. “Then it’ll be a challenge, won’t it?” snaps Hyde.
This setup and the way it is unrolled is a great re-entry into the world of Criminal, but what truly makes The Sinners #1 an excellent read is the way Brubaker handles Tracy as a flawed, complex character, and the way artist Sean Phillips and colorist Val Staples create a tangible time and place for the story to unfold. Great crime stories have a hard edge to them, which includes the settings. Brubaker creates the characters and Phillips and Staples create the places. The combination is hard-hitting crime stories as vivid and rewarding as anything penned by the greats in crime fiction. (Chad Boudreau)