Saturday, October 20, 2012

Criminal: Last of the Innocents TPB

Once again, Ed Brubaker is delivering fantastic noir tales that have a nice root in the world of comic books. This time, it’s through Archie-analog Riley, and the familiar yet jarring world he lives in.

I’m not sure what my reaction is supposed to be to comics like this. It probably says more about my sheltered life than anything else, but seeing Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and the rest of Riverdale’s cast put through this ringer sort of makes me sad! I don’t like thinking that Jughead/Freakout was always so hungry just because he had the munchies. (Full disclosure: I’ve never read an Archie comic; even so, I’m pretty sure that’s not in there.)

But this play on the familiar is what makes this story so shocking. On its own, Brubaker would have delivered another solid tale of crime and sin. By tying the roles to fallen icons from youth, everything just seems grimier. If Archie/Riley can fall this far, what in society is worth keeping? Heck, I think the big blonde cop is the only guy who seems to have his head on straight!

This story has only one touchpoint that I recognized, when Lawless shows up as an enforcer for a local mobster. So this is solidly in the world of Criminal.

Sean Phillips really skeeves up Riverdale. Every innocent action now has a dark underbelly, and the characters’ eyes give away their more adult motivations. And he does this while maintaining a great homage to Archie comics.


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