Cover to Criminal vol. 1, #1 (October 2006). Art by Sean Phillips.
|Publication date||Oct 2006 - present|
|No. of issues||(vol. 1): 10|
(vol. 2): 7
(vol. 3): 5
(vol. 4): 4
(vol. 5): 12
|Main character(s)||Leo Patterson |
Jake "Gnarly" Brown
|Created by||Ed Brubaker |
|Written by||Ed Brubaker|
|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|
|Wrong Time, Wrong Place||ISBN 1-63215-877-9|
Criminal is an ongoing American creator-owned crime comic book series by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, originally published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint, and later by Image Comics.
The series is a meditation on the clichés of the crime genre while remaining realistic and believable.
The first series began in October 2006, and ran for ten issues, which were published as two trade paperback editions, Coward (issues 1-5) and Lawless (issues 6-10), in 2007. In Coward, pickpocket Leo Patterson gets involved in an armored car heist that is not what it seems. In Lawless, AWOL soldier Tracy Lawless infiltrates his brother Ricky's former gang to find out who murdered Ricky. A second series began in February 2008, and ran for seven issues. The first three issues, overlapping stories from the points of view of three characters involved in organized crime in the 1970s, were collected as The Dead and the Dying (issues 1-3, 2008). Issues 4-7 were collected as Bad Night (issues 4-7, 2009). A third series ran for five issues in 2009-2010, and was collected as The Sinners (2010). A fourth series followed in 2011, which ran for four issues, and was collected as The Last of the Innocent (2011).
In 2009, Coward, Lawless and The Dead and the Dying were reprinted as a 432-page "Deluxe Edition" hardcover. Included in this edition are a number of extras, including three of the original backpages "essays" with all 13 original accompanying pieces of art, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund short story No One Rides For Free, the original Coward "trailer" announcing the series, 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 six trade paperback editions were republished by Image Comics in 2014. Two one-shot issues of new material, Criminal Special Edition (February 2015) and Criminal 10th Anniversary Special (April 2016), followed, and were collected as Wrong Time, Wrong Place in September 2016.
In 2017, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips released My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, a hardcover standalone book. While the author notes that the volume is not officially book 8 of Criminal, it does feature a minor character from an earlier volume, now in a central role.
In January 2019, Brubaker and Phillips, along with Jacob Phillips as colorist, returned to Criminal with a new series published by Image. The first issue's story takes place in 1988 and focuses on Teeg Lawless. At the end of the story, Brubaker notes that part of the impetus for the new series is to tell stories of various lengths (from single issues to serialized) with jumps in time. Brubaker writes that he "doesn't want you to know where you're going. Just that it's probably to the wrong side of town."  Twelve issues were published between January 2019 and January 2020, with two issues collected in an expanded format as the novella Bad Weekend in July 2019. The remaining 10 issues were collected in 2020 in a deluxe hardcover titled "Cruel Summer".
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 Tommy Patterson.
- Ricky Lawless: Brother of Tracy and son of Teeg. An impulsive and struggling teen who grows up to follow his father into a life of crime.
- 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.
The series has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks and deluxe hardbacks.
|1||Coward||Icon||2007||ISBN 0-7851-2439-X||Criminal #1-5|
|2||Lawless||Icon||2007||ISBN 0-7851-2816-6||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|
|7||Wrong Time, Wrong Place||Image||2016||ISBN 1-6321-5877-9||Criminal Special Edition One Shots #1-2|
|-||My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies||Image||2018||ISBN 1-5343-0846-6||Original graphic novella|
|-||Bad Weekend||Image||2019||ISBN 1-5343-1440-7||Criminal (2019) #2-3, with additional material|
|1||Deluxe Edition vol 1||Icon||2009||ISBN 978-0785142294||Criminal #1-10, Criminal v2 #1-3|
|2||Deluxe Edition vol 2||Icon||2012||ISBN 978-0785165842||Criminal v2 #4-7, Criminal v3, Criminal v4|
|3||Deluxe Edition vol 3||Image||2020||ISBN 1-5343-1706-6||Criminal Special Edition One Shots #1-2, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, Bad Weekend, Criminal (2019) #1 & #4|
|4||Cruel Summer||Image||2020||ISBN 1-5343-1643-4||Criminal (2019) #1 & #5-12|
- Criminal at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- "New & Current Work". Edbrubaker.com. Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Criminal at Image Comics
- "The Secret Ingredient is Crime," Criminal #1, January 2019.
- "The Secret Ingredient is Crime," Criminal #1, January 2019.
- Crime Comic Legends Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips Expose the Seedy Underbelly of the Comics Industry in Bad Weekend, Image Comics, April 2019
- "Wilson and Dapper Men Tie for Best Graphic Album at 2011 Eisner Awards". Comic-con.org. 2011-07-20. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "2010-Present Eisner Awards". Comic-con.org. 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-05-02.