By Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (art), Val Staples (color)

This is my favorite Criminal story yet. Ed Brubaker snags you in from page one and doesn’t let go. The beauty of this book is while the story will continue for issues to come, the story presented here is very much self contained. Sean Phillips is in top form on art duty. The facial expressions and body language we renders give so much life to Brubaker’s script while Val Staples does a great coloring job portraying the mood of urban life in the 1970s.

The story follows the lives of two men – one white, one black. Both of their fathers were crime lords, thus in a way, they were raised like brothers. As they’ve grown into men, the white kid (now a man) goes to college and is groomed to take the mantle of his father’s empire. The black kid tries to find his own way, becoming a boxing champ. As the two men go their separate ways, destiny comes in the form of a woman and their lives are once again entangled.

Words can’t begin to describe how enamored I am with this story. It’s honest, hard-hitting, and so well written. Brubaker does such a wonderful job getting you into the heads of both men and their situations. You can’t help but feel sympathy for either of them, despite their faults. When the crap hits the fan (and it does), it’ll leave you gasping for what happens next. Like I said, the story will continue, but with this expanded issue (32 pages), Brubaker is able to keep it all self contained. Don’t wait for the trade to come out. Buy this today. You’ll be happy you did. (Grade: A+)

– J. Montes