CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT REVIEW
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are back with another CRIMINAL story-and it's the best yet in my view.
It unfolds like a true crime book or an episode of DATELINE. Riley Richards married the girl of his dreams and high school sweetheart, the rich girl Felix. Clever transposition of male/female names, Ed. Also clever is the Betty/Veronica angle on the other girl in Riley's life-the not rich girl. Anyway Riley finds out his wife is
a ho, banging his nemesis from high school on the side. Old Riley has gambling debts and we see RICKY LAWLESS appear in this story. He plays the trickster role from Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero's Journey'. He wants his MONEY. He also helps Riley to protect his investment. So, there's the set-up: cheating wife, hubby with a pre-nup and gambling debts. He wants to keep his knees intact so he decides to kill his wife Felix.
And we like Felix. We also like Riley. Great tension is created by Brubaker's masterful character-izations. The story is spot on realistic with cool flashbacks to high school in an Archie comics style to further solidify the Betty/Veronica thing. the flashbacks actually look like Love and Rockets, and indicates a simpler time. Great job Sean.
OK Sean does some masterful drawing in the 4 issue story. As I read it I kept thinking, "I want that page". I have two pages of Phillips art, one from Batman and one from Wonder Woman. But I wish I could afford one of his CRIMINAL or INCOGNITO pages man. Maybe one day. The cover of issue one is the BEST COMIC BOOK COVER EVER PAINTED. It's done in gauche and reminiscent of Van Gogh's brushstrokes. We see the doomed Felix dancing away in a 60's party.
The story takes place in the 80's and I wish Sean had added 80's elements like zippered shirts and Duran Duran like Tony and I did in the 80's flashback scenes for 'End of Paradise'. But it's still way cool.
So basically it's the story of what if Archie married Veronica then decided to kill her for the money then went with Betty. Awesome man.
I liked this CRIMINAL so much I bought an extra set for my dad. After reading the first issue he said, "I can see why these guys are gods to you". He's right.
So: Pick up 'Last of the Innocent' and try to do what I tried to do, which was read it slowly. I wish there was some machine that could selectively erase memories because I would just keep reading this thing every day for the rest of my life.
That's a wrap.
A. Kaviraj is an artist, writer, reviewer, and force of nature at Champion City Comics.