By Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), Val Staples (colorist)

The Story: In the conclusion to the “Bad Night” storyline, Jacob discovers the full extent of Iris’ treachery, but must think and act fast if he is going to exact his revenge, because Detective Starr is moving in for the kill– especially after Jacob humiliated him after their last encounter.

The Good: What I love most about Criminal is how Brubaker and Phillips strive to make this book as accessible and new-reader friendly as possible.  Storylines like “Bad Night” are short, running no more than four issues in length, and self contained so that after one story ends, another begins with a new cast.  Because stories only have a few issues in which to be told, they are by necessity tightly paced and engaging; Brubaker gets right to the point and introduces you to the cast and sets up the conflict so that he has enough time to let it unfold.

This is important because in an industry dominated by superhero comics with decades of continuity attached to them, a creator-owned crime comic like this needs every inroad it can get to attract readers. And Criminal overwhelmingly succeeds because it is designed to be enjoyed by anybody.  I put this idea to the test and gave my dad, a longtime Mickey Spillane fan, the “Bad Night” storyline and was pleased when he came back to me the next day asking if I had anymore issues to share with him!

The Not So Good: My only problem is that Criminal will be taking a five-month break so that Brubaker and Phillips can release Incognito, another crime story with a superhero twist.  Not a bad problem for a good title like this, really.

Conclusion: Criminal proves that variety really is the spice of life.  This is a quality comic and great entertainment.  Not to be missed!

Grade: A

-Tony Rakittke