Review by: Paul Montgomery

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Avg Rating: 4.6
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Size: pages
Price: 3.50

I wouldn’t know where to begin scripting a comics page.

There is a surefire and wholly uncertain alchemy to putting panels together and telling a story in a dynamic way. You can study it, sure. But it’s harder to nail down the science of narrative storytelling in the static media. At least that’s my take. And let’s say I gave it a shot. A real shot, all academic and clever. There’s no way of knowing, but I believe, eventually, I would have figured out to use a blacked-out panel to represent loss of time, a literal blackout. But two in a row? One wide, one narrow? I don’t know what that triggers and I don’t know if my mind has any previous precedent for that kind of trickery, but it translated.

Brubaker and Phillips know what they’re doing here. They’re experimenting with light, shadow, and pacing in much the same way that the filmmakers they discuss in the back-matter pioneered noir in the cinema. It’s vintage and new. It’s nostalgic and refreshing.

I also don’t know of a more complete comic experience. From the newly increased page count introduced for this volume, to the essays in the back, and the recommendations for other monthly books and even movies, Criminal delivers more than just a story. It’s an invitation into a genre, and really, a fraternity of storytellers basking in the light of the same bare bulb. Hazy with smoke. Thick as thieves.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 5 - Excellent

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