The reviews are coming in. I don't believe we have a sort of Rotten Tomatoes or MetaCritic for comic books, so I'll take the opportunity to compile the reviews that I find for at least this first issue of "The Last of the Innocent," starting with the advance review we mentioned yesterday
I'll update this entry as my very limited time permits. I tip my hat to the tweets and retweets at Ed Brubaker's page -- and to any one who lists any I miss in the comments.
--IGN: "It's too early to tell how The Last of the Innocent will compare to past Criminal stories, but it is clear this tale has potential to outshine them all." 9.0 out of ten.Comic Book Resources: "This book is a study of our view of the past, both our own and a culturally ubiquitous one, as well as the start of the best noir tale you’ll find in any medium." 5 stars out of five.cxPulp: "This is an excellent jumping on point for new readers, so if you’ve never read a Criminal comic before, why not start here?" 4.5 out of five.Comics Alliance: "Brubaker and Phillips have managed to crank out five volumes of Criminal over the past few years, and The Last of the Innocent is off to a fantastic start that's comfortably above the already high bar set for the series. In fact, it has a good chance of being the best arc yet."
An MTV print interview
with Ed Brubaker includes its own quick review: "...without spoilers, we’ll say that it’s probably our favorite kick-off to a Criminal series yet. Steeped in comic book minutiae, but without losing any of the blisteringly whip-smart noir feel of previous series, Last of The Innocent would definitely be on our 'do-not-miss' list for this next week, even if we weren’t lucky enough to snag a copy from Brubaker himself."
More to come, as I find additional reviews.
[Update, June 5]
A few more reviews:Best Shots Rapid Reviews, Newsarama: "It’s without a doubt writer Brubaker’s most personal work, and the direct and palpable emotion of it all just makes the book a compelling read from start to finish. Artwise, from cover to back Sean Phillips makes the book sing, with his lurid, pulpy painted cover and gleefully retro Archie-like flashbacks as he switches styles to portray the protagonist’s earlier years. Hands down, this was the best book I read all week and is strongly recommended."The Buy Pile, CBR: "The idea, it seems, was to show the discordance between the characters in their youth and their much more rough hewn adulthoods, but it didn't quite connect." Honorable Mention / "Read Pile"Fresh Ink video review: "This may be the best one yet... It makes my heart weep that something this good might be overlooked because you gotta buy a bunch of [event] tie-ins. So, if you only buy one comic this week, oh my God, make it Criminal. This is such good stuff." Pick of the Week.
[Update, June 6]
And a few more reviews:Best Shots Review, Newsarama: "If you're going to keep on creating and reading these kind of dark, twisted crime stories, eventually you need to find some humor in the situation... The dark humor of Riley Richards' life is a welcome treat in this latest story of crime and murder."Savage Critics: "Is it a form of innocence to pine for something evil? Or is it a sign of corruption? I think this book is going to address this stuff (god, I really hope so), but the first issue didn’t really deliver on that for me. It’s still GOOD, mind you — well-written and lovely as hell, but [from the pre-release interviews] I’d been primed for something great.
There were three reviews at Comics Bulletin,
in their Firing Squad's Sunday Slugfest:
Morgan Davis: "Brubaker and Phillips work is so strong  that even if they were to unfold this story in a way we've seen before the book would still be a powerful if clichéd effort. But given the experiments in form that Brubaker and Phillips are conducting and the track record of these two, it's likely that we'll be the fortunate receivers of yet another groundbreaking piece of crime lit that plays with our sense of nostalgia for a time when noir was new." 5 bullets out of five.
Rafael Gaitan: "Criminal is a masterclass in how to do crime in comic form, and Last of the Innocent is perhaps the zenith of Brubaker, Phillips and Staples' efforts. Easily the best issue of the week and perhaps the year, there's nothing that packs a simultaneous punch to the jaw and a blow to the heart as much as Criminal." 5 out of five.
Danny Djeljosevic: "The character work is so strong and Brubaker's script so thought-provoking that I can read this issue without feeling unsatisfied and can write about it without dropping the usual mitigating first issue review stock phrases like "this is all setup, so I'll reserve final judgment for future issues." It's a meaty first issue that doesn't feel like it needs to satisfy some well-worn genre formula, so I don't have to reserve judgment. I'll call it now and risk pulling a reverse-Pauline-Kael-on-Star-Wars: Criminal: The Last of the Innocent will be an instant classic." 5 out of five.
The book was chosen as the "Pick of the Week" at iFanboy. Conor Kilpatrick raves about the issue in a print review
and, with his colleagues, he lauds the issue in an audio podcast
Not to review the reviews, but I've really been getting a kick out of all this commentary. It's great to see Criminal
praised from so many corners, especially for a storytelling approach that was challenging and risky, but it's also nice to share the experience of enjoying a good work of art with others and find a greater appreciation for the work from their analysis.
For all of these reviews, I've been excerpting only the "bottom line," but I STRONGLY
recommend that our readers check out the links, especially from Comics Alliance and Comics Bulletin.
[Update, June 11]
And one more review...Living Between Wednesdays: "[I]t was the best comic I read last week... Last Of The Innocent isn’t one of those wretched re-examinations of beloved comics characters that wallows in postmodernism by simply recasting old favourites as drug addicts, wife beaters, and fascists (although one of the thinly-veiled Riverdale gang is now saddled with a substance abuse problem). Brubaker and Phillips actually have something to say about the dangers of viewing the past through rose-coloured glasses, and their Archie pastiche provides an entertaining and insightful storytelling device with which to deliver it."
[Update, July 7]
And a late entry...AV Club's Comics Panel: "The pairing of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips may not have reached legendary status yet, but Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #1 (Icon) solidifies their position in the golden pantheon of comic-book creative teams."
In the comments, the author, Oliver Sava, reveals that AV Club will soon publish an interview with Ed Brubaker, including an "enlightening" discussion of Criminal
Labels: Criminal, interviews, reviews