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Criminal (comics)

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Title: Criminal (comics)  
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Subject: Ed Brubaker, Icon Comics, Sean Phillips, Sleeper (comics), Criminal (disambiguation)
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Criminal (comics)

Cover to Criminal vol. 1, #1 (October 2006). Art by Sean Phillips.
Publication information
Publisher Icon (Marvel)
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date Oct 2006 - present
Number of issues (vol. 1): 10
(vol. 2): 7
(vol. 3): 5
(vol. 4): 4
Main character(s) Leo Patterson
Tracy Lawless
Jake "Gnarly" Brown
Creative team
Writer(s) Ed Brubaker
Artist(s) Sean Phillips
Colorist(s) Val Staples
Creator(s) Ed Brubaker
Sean Phillips
Collected editions
Coward ISBN 0-7851-2439-X
Lawless ISBN 0-7851-2816-X
The Dead and the Dying ISBN 0-7851-3227-9
Bad Night ISBN 0-7851-3228-7
The Sinners ISBN 0-7851-3229-5
The Last of the Innocent ISBN 0-7851-5829-4

Criminal is an ongoing American creator-owned crime comic book series by writer Ed Brubaker with artist Sean Phillips published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint.[1]

The series is a meditation on the clichés of the crime genre while remaining realistic and believable.[2]


  • Publication history 1
  • Plot 2
  • Characters 3
  • Collected editions 4
  • Reception 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8
    • Interviews 8.1
    • Reviews 8.2

Publication history

The series began in October 2006, and ran for 10 issues.

Criminal was relaunched in February 2008 with a new #1, and an expanded format. After 7 issues, it went on hiatus and was relaunched again in October 2009 as volume three, subtitled The Sinners. However, as stated on the podcast Word Balloon, Brubaker does not consider the renumbering to be a relaunch but instead to represent each arc as being its own story. Following Incognito, each arc of Criminal will be renumbered and arcs will be broken up by other projects co-created by Brubaker and Phillips. The fourth volume, Last of the Innocents began in May 2011 and ran for four issues.

Before publishing volume five, Brubaker and Phillips are publishing a twenty-four issue noir titled Fatale.[3]


The series' story arcs are self-contained and focus on different characters, but these central characters inhabit the same world, grew up in fictional Center City, frequent the same bar, and share a common history of two generations of crime. With his partner Ivan, Tommy Patterson ran the city's most proficient crew of pickpockets and taught the trade to his eight-year-old son, Leo. When Tommy was arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Teeg Lawless, Ivan took care of Leo and explained to him how following certain rules can keep a criminal "out in the world," out of both prison and the morgue.

Around the same time, Teeg Lawless' two sons were arrested. While his fifteen-year-old brother Ricky was sent to a juvenile work camp, Tracy Lawless was given the option of going to prison or enlisting in the armed forces. Tracy joined the U.S. Army, abandoning Ricky but honing his skills as a soldier.


Leo Patterson: A criminal prodigy, capable of envisioning many angles to commit any heist given a small period of time. Despite his perceived cowardice, he has a deadly streak.

Tommy Patterson: Leo's father, who was part of the best pick-pocketing crew with his friend Ivan. He was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of Teeg Lawless.

Tracy Lawless: A veteran soldier, Tracy abandoned his unit and returned to Center City to investigate the circumstances of his brother Rick's murder.

Teeg Lawless: A Vietnam war veteran who unknowingly stole from Sebastian Hyde and eventually ended up working for him as an enforcer. His son Tracy would be the same many years later. He was killed under unrevealed circumstances by Leo Patterson.

Jacob Kurtz: An expert forger and author of popular newspaper strip 'Frank Kafka, Private Eye', he's an acquaintance of Tracy and was once married to Sebastian Hyde's niece.

Sebastian Hyde: The city's kingpin of crime. Most characters in the series have had some kind of dealings with him. He is killed in the final issue of The Sinners miniseries by two young boys who were sent by Tracy Lawless, who was upset that Hyde had brutally beaten his wife after discovering her affair with Lawless.

Jake 'Gnarly' Brown: Owner and manager of the Undertown bar (known as The Undertow due to the n part of the neon sign having long been damaged and never repaired). His father Clevon was instrumental in helping Walter Hyde (Sebastian's father) take over the reins of organized crime in Center City, and as such he lived at the Hyde estate and grew up with Sebastian as his best friend.

Collected editions

The series has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks:

# Title Publisher Year ISBN Reprints
1 Coward Icon 2007 ISBN 0-7851-2439-X Criminal #1-5
2 Lawless Icon 2007 ISBN 0-7851-2816-X Criminal #6-10
3 The Dead and The Dying Icon 2008 ISBN 0-7851-3227-9 Criminal v2 #1-3
4 Bad Night Icon 2009 ISBN 0-7851-3228-7 Criminal v2 #4-7
5 The Sinners Icon 2010 ISBN 0-7851-3229-5 Criminal - The Sinners #1-5
6 The Last of the Innocent Icon 2011 ISBN 0-7851-5829-4 Criminal - The Last of the Innocent #1-4

In 2009 the first three trades were repackaged in a 432-page "Deluxe Edition" hardcover (ISBN 9780785142294). Included in this edition are a number of extras, including three of the original backpages "essays" with all 13 original accompanying pieces of art, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund short story No One Rides For Free, the original Coward "trailer" announcing the series, and a covers gallery, and a number of pages describing the "process" of making the book. A second hardcover collecting Bad Night, The Sinners, and Last of the Innocent was published in October 2012.


The series has received multiple prestigious awards. In 2007 it won the Eisner Award for Best New Series.[4] Criminal: The Last of the Innocent won the 2012 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Criminal at the Comic Book DB
  2. ^ "New & Current Work". Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  3. ^ Criminal vol 4 #4 (Aug 2011)
  4. ^ "Wilson and Dapper Men Tie for Best Graphic Album at 2011 Eisner Awards". 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  5. ^ "2010-Present Eisner Awards". 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  6. ^ Ed Brubaker on Incognito, Newsarama, September 16, 2008

External links

  • Ed Brubaker's web site
  • A Criminal Blog
  • Criminal - An Appreciation, Comic Book Resources, March 20, 2007


  • Breaking the Law(less): Brubaker Talks "Criminal", Comic Book Resources, May 8, 2007
  • CriminalAugust 2006 interview with Sean Philips about


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