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Criminal #6 review

While certainly a doomed affair, the central romance lacks a looming sense of tragedy.

Ed Brubaker
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Teeg Lawson is still up to no good. What a surprise. Here, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips take us through an affair of his that puts him on the run.

This issue definitely takes cues from noirs like Out of the Past where a grim protagonist stupidly falls in love with another criminal’s girl, who’s of course a femme fatale. Jacob Phillip’s colors help convey Teeg’s schoolboy attraction to this girl. He meets her at a nightclub, so the colors are more garish and flat. But of course the sobering days after feature muted beige and sickly greens. While this is a classic crime story setup, as usual, Brubaker and company elevate the conventions and archetypes just enough to be exciting yet familiar.

While it’s a fairly entertaining read getting to see the older Teeg trying to be a badass boyfriend, the issue itself doesn’t leave much of an impact. There are moments of tension, but the issue’s stakes aren’t established. It doesn’t appear that Teeg is in that deep for us to truly worry about this couple’s safety. While certainly a doomed affair, the romance lacks a looming sense of tragedy. Granted, this is only part two of a larger story.

Another problem comes from Teeg’s voice-over. When he first meets his sweetie, their meeting is told to us through his narration–we don’t get to read any of their dialogue. And that’s a shame, because Brubaker’s hard-boiled dialogue is almost always a treat, so I feel a bit cheated.

Sean Phillips puts most of his effort into the characters. The backgrounds aren’t as solidified, but it works just fine. Even with less detailed linework, his panels ooze sleazy, grimy atmosphere. However, when Teeg smacks somebody around later in the issue, it looks quite stiff. It’s hard to believe we’re actually seeing somebody actually make contact with a weapon. It instead looks more like stale photo reference.

Criminal #6 review
Is it good?
Come for the artwork and overall mood, but skim through the story. Yes, the characters are fun, yet the story surrounding them lacks a punch.
Gorgeous artwork is so vital to the storytelling.
Noir archetypes elevated.
Lacks clear stakes.
Stiff fight scene.
Sleazy "meet cute" told through narration. Sad!

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