cover image Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward

Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Image, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-63215-170-4

The critically acclaimed series, from the creative team behind the superb Fatale, first published in 2007 and has been rereleased in handsome new editions, kicking things off with the story of Leo, a world-class professional pickpocket, whose gift for planning big-money heists is pressed into service by a pair of bent cops. Leo is wary of the job and his new associates, but the plan%E2%80%99s success hinges on his knack for clean getaways. When the job goes drastically wrong and Leo and an accomplice are forced into hiding, the situation steadily escalates, until Leo%E2%80%99s mettle is put to the most dire of tests. Honing their 16-year collaboration (since 1999%E2%80%99s Scene of the Crime), Brubaker and Phillips are modern masters, who craft nail-bitingly tense worlds where nothing is black and white%E2%80%94Brubaker%E2%80%99s smart dialogue fusing with Phillip%E2%80%99s sharp, emotive noir artwork. This is an ideal introduction for newcomers who want to take a walk on the grimiest side of the graphic underworld. (Feb.)