Time to take a break from the big summer comic events and check out a couple of cool new mini-series out there.
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #1. After having read tons of rave reviews about writer Ed Brubaker’s (Captain America, Secret Avengers, Incognito) crime noir Criminal series, I finally got my eager grabby little paws on his latest mini-series a couple weeks ago. The series consist of self-contained story arcs starring different characters. No men-in-tights or laser beams here, it’s all realistic and gritty crime stories that have won critical acclaim since the first one came out in 2006.
Now if there’s one word that comes to mind when describing Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, it’s ‘smoldering’. The passion, the criminal intent, the rage, it’s all smoldering in the background. When you put down this issue, you know really bad things are going to happen in the next issue.
The first issue introduces the characters and sets up an archetypal sleepy small town U.S.A. and what better reference to classic Americana than Archie Comics’ Riverdale. Alright, let me explain this, the cast of Criminal: The Last
of the Innocent are mirror images of the Archie gang. But Brubaker here has transported them to the real world, all grown up and in situations where we know is going to end in bloodshed. Adultery, drugs and death all play a part in
this first issue as Brubaker strips away almost every comic reader’s childhood innocence. It’s brilliant.
Riley Richards (Archie wannabe) returns home from the big city to take care of his sick dad. Richards is married to a cheating rich wife (Veronica wannabe) but obviously still has a thing for the girl-next-door (Betty wannabe). Part of the fun here is connecting the dots and see how many other Riverdale residents you can spot. The story progresses innocently right till the last panel when we are reminded that this is after all a crime story and a damn good compelling one too.
Artist Sean Phillips knocked it right out of the ballpark with this one. From the stunning and sultry cover to the main story to the retro flashbacks, the art flows beautifully from panel to panel. If you are looking for something besides regular superhero fare, this is an excellent noir series that will keep you hooked.
The Iron Age Alpha #1. When I first saw this on shipment day, I thought now here’s a mini-series that’s a year late since all the special Iron Man comics stopped coming out soon after his last movie ended. Well, as far as I know it’s not a late release and reading this with no preview plot knowledge or expectations about this series, it actually turned out pretty good.
Written by Brit Rob Williams (2000AD) with art by Rebekah Isaacs, this is the first bookend issue of a new mini-series that stars who else but Iron Man. The Phantom, a forgotten but terminally ill Iron Man foe, gets his dying hands on
Doctor Doom’s infamous time machine and uses it in to destroy the world. So guess what, he did it! And it’s not even the official first issue!
What I enjoyed was how the villain here did the most practical and logical thing a bad guy with a time machine who wants to blow up the world would do. He went back in time and got the most powerful known weapon in the Marvel universe (no spoilers here as to what or who that is) and used it immediately. It made perfect sense so where does that leave a half naked Tony Stark?
Well, there’s a time machine in the story and he’s the main star so naturally Stark has to make it out alive somehow. But the bad news is he has gone retro as in he has gone back in time to about 10 Marvel years ago, now in real time that would be the 80s I believe. That’s where the six-part mini-series continues with Iron Man leading a group of (past) Marvel heroes to save the future. Preview art has shown Luke Cage and Iron Fist in their early costumes and Williams did promise a disco, roller-skating Dazzler in an interview. According to Williams, “(the mini-series) will have old logos on the covers as well as the old trade dress. The reader will get to feel like they have gone back in time to their Marvel-reading childhoods.”
This Alpha issue didn’t disappoint me so I’m definitely in for the ride. I always did kinda miss the 80s.