CRIMINAL: THE DELUXE EDITION (Icon/ Marvel, Fourth Printing, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Criminal (Vol. 1) Nos. 1-10 and Criminal (Vol. 2) Nos. 1-3 (cover dates October, 2006- April, 2008).
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
I can't possibly keep up with everything going on in comic books. Titles like Criminal are a fine example of this. I heard the buzz, the unanimous praise, and still never got around to checking it out. My OCD brother-in-arms Ferjo Byroy gave me this gorgeous hardcover for my birthday last month, and since I am in the process of relocating my Fortress of Solitude and many of my books are already boxed up, I grabbed this for my comic book fix.
I am a pretty big fan of Brubaker, and loved the collaboration he and Sean Phillips did on Fatale. This is hard-boiled crime, set in various points in time from the '50s to the present. The third arc takes place between 1967 and 1972, for example. Like Sin City, the events of one arc rotate in and out of the other, with knowledge of any of the other arcs not being necessary to understand what is going on in the current arc. The Undertow(n) bar is the nexus of this crime infested burg, and the bartender and denizens of it are involved in various arcs. I wouldn't be surprised to see background characters in some of these stories be the stars of future ones. It feels similar to Sin City in some ways, but that is not a slam. There's nothing wrong with being reminded of something good.
I won't go into any plot specifics or synopses, as I would prefer that you have the joy of discovery for yourself. Suffice it to say that if you enjoyed the aforementioned Sin City or other crime/noir titles, then you will really enjoy Criminal. I am now trying to resist the urge to embark on a life of crime filled with fast women, fast cars, and fast cash, as my wife would frown on two out of the three.
There is a second deluxe edition hardcover coming out this October which will collect the rest of the series. Thanks for sucking me into another expensive hardcover, Ferjo. Your birthday* is coming, and I'll get you for this...
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is a beautifully produced hardcover, with stunning coated stock paper and top notch sewn binding. Marvel has perfected the art of sewn binding and books laying completely flat from the first page to the last, which seems to be a lost art to many publishers these days. It really enhances the reading experience for me when I don't have to wrestle with a book in order to read it. I tend to read hardcovers in bed at night, and lay them flat. My only gripe, if it can be called that, is that the cover image is printed on the book in lieu of a dustjacket. This would be fine by me if the coating were a bit thicker. I handle my books with the utmost care, but am fearful of scratching the cover with that dull matte coating.
I dislike the covers being in a gallery in the back of the book as opposed to their proper, chapter marker place. It's an OCD pet peeve of mine. All comic book fans have their quirks and ticks, and this is a big one for me. The only difference between me and many fans is that I built a blog around these ticks.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5.
Hardcover coating rating: 3 out of 5.
*Ferjo and I have a longstanding game of sucking each other into more lines of books. We are both completely, totally ill. We both had ridiculous collections of books when we met, and are way worse now. We use birthdays as gateway drugs. We were both ill when we met, and we are much, much worse all of these years later. I was like a smack addict and he was like a cokehead when we met. Then it was like I introduced him to smack, and he introduced me to coke. Now we are both addicted to both coke and smack, encouraging and enabling one other in our illness. Don't do drugs. Drugs are expensive, and the money that you'd spend on drugs would be better spent on comic books.
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