It’s not hyperbole to say that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are the crime comics masters. While a few other names hold competitive claims to that crown (David Lapham, we’re looking at you), the sheer volume and excellence of Brubaker and Phillips’ collaborative efforts have established them as the gold standard against which all others are measured. This afternoon, fans of the creative powerhouses got the best news possible: Brubaker and Phillips’ masterwork Criminal is coming back to shelves on a monthly basis beginning in January 2019, from new publishing home Image Comics.
“Criminal was where Sean and I really established our brand as a team, and while writing My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (which takes place in the Criminal world), it just suddenly felt like the perfect time to bring it back to the monthly comic shelves,” Brubaker said in a statement. “But this time I wanted it to be different—not just serialized graphic novels, but also single-issue stories and even the odd two-issue story sometimes. I love the elasticity that Criminal allows me—because this world we’ve created gives me a place to tell any kind of crime story and to focus on different characters, both old and new—and I want to really embrace the monthly comics format, and try to create a series where readers will never know what’s coming next from issue to issue.”
Criminal #1 Cover Art by Sean Phillips
First launched in 2006 under Marvel’s creator-owned Icon imprint, Criminal is a series of largely standalone crime noir stories that are at once acutely aware of the genre’s tropes and expert realizations of genre standards. While each arc can be read independently, characters overlap and intersect over the two-dozen-plus issues, fleshing out a web of bad decisions, bad luck and bad fates. Perhaps the best known of the series’ storylines is “The Last of the Innocent,” which features a cast of hapless former teen dreams who should be familiar to any viewer of Riverdale.
“It’s a pleasure to return to the world of Criminal with new stories of familiar characters and new characters too,” Phillips added. “I’m back to drawing on paper after a few years drawing The Fade Out and Kill or Be Killed digitally, so it’s also a welcome return to inky fingers and white-out.”
While Brubaker and Phillips’ other collaborations—Incognito, The Fade Out, Fatale, Kill or Be Killed and last week’s My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies—all hold their own distinct appeals, there’s nothing quite like having the purest distillation of their partnership back in action.
Criminal #1 hits stands in January 2019 as a double-sized issue focusing on the familiar face of Teeg Lawless, whose teenage son is causing him a brand-new kind of trouble. Like many other Brubaker/Phillips joints, the single issues will also feature backmatter essays and articles to flesh out the reading experience. For more on Criminal as it becomes available, keep your eyes on Paste.