Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bullets: Criminal's Return, Sleeper's Conclusion, Essays and Reviews.

It's a big week, as Criminal has finally (finally!) returned with a new arc.
  • The Sinners #1 In Stores Now. After a nine-month hiatus, Criminal has returned with new issues, and with a new format where issues will be numbered by mini-series rather than as an ongoing title.

    Issue #1 of Criminal: The Sinners hit stores today. In addition to the main feature -- the second story arc for Tracy Lawless -- the issue features an essay by Michael Stradford on Sam Peckinpah's 1975 crime film, The Killer Elite. The issue also includes excerpts of a lengthy interview that Tom Spurgeon conducted with Ed Brubaker; the two talked with Darwyn Cooke about his adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter, and the complete interview (which we mentioned in May) can still be found online at The Comics Reporter.

    It's worth reiterating what we reported last month, that Sean Phillips posted a five-page preview of this first issue of "The Sinners."

  • Sleeper: Season Two. DC has been publishing new trade collections for Sleeper over the summer, and the final collection reached stores last week. The series, a twisted espionage story set in the super-powered WildStorm universe, was Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' first major collaboration, and it remains one of my favorite series all-time.

    The trade paperback collects material from two compilations released in 2005, "A Crooked Line" and "The Long Way Home," but it does so with an MSRP of nearly $8.00 less. The material appears to be mostly unchanged, with slightly better paper quality, different cover pages, and slight revisions to the introduction of "what has come before."

    The most important change is something I mentioned earlier: the inclusion of a prelude story from WildStorm's "Coup D'Etat: Afterword." The six-page story begins this collection and serves as a bridge from the shocking conclusion of the first 12-issue "season" to the next twelve issues in the second and final season.

    Fans of Criminal and Incognito should check out Sleeper if they haven't already.

  • Brubaker Essay on Philip K. Dick. Brubaker and Phillips' monthly work for Icon is uniquely attractive to readers in part because of the additional material that isn't collected in the trades, primarily essays about crime fiction. Boom Studios using a similar draw for their illustrated edition of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    The 24-issue maxi-series is apparently including literally every word of the novel on which Blade Runner was based: as the Boom CEO put it, "It's the full novel, fully illustrated." That sounds precisely like the sort of project for which I would wait for the trade -- a collection that would ultimately fit nicely alongside Steve Niles and Elman Brown's adaptation of I Am Legend -- but the title is drawing monthly readers with additional backmatter: the first three issues include essays by Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction, and Rockne S. O'Bannon, respectively.

    Issue #4 came out last week, and it includes an essay on Philip K. Dick by our own Ed Brubaker. The essay notes that Dick often made corporations the villain, and he did so -- correctly -- for their lack of empathy, but I would add that public bureaucracies can be as cold as their private-sector counterparts, and that their incentive structures are different but often no less imperfect. Though neither writer is my north star by any means, in some respects Heinlein and Dick make a good pair of well-balanced skepticism toward authority in its many guises.

    Brubaker also writes that, with Blade Runner, Hollywood missed the "small details" that make Dick's work so rewarding. If there's anything that makes me wary of any adaptations of Criminal -- even compared to the superhero noir of Sleeper and Incognito -- it's that: it's the details and the careful characterization that allow the book to soar above what could easily become hard-boiled cliche.

  • Christopher Allen Reviews Angel of Death. Finally, I meant to write about this much sooner, but a couple weeks ago, Christopher Allen -- who contributes to the excellent new blog Trouble With Comics at Comic Book Galaxy -- posted a brief review of Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death, now available on DVD.

    Allen writes that he hopes the project leads to bigger and better things for all involved, and that hope may reflect its final place in Brubaker's body of work: it's almost certainly a minor work, but hopefully one that will end up being seen as the prelude of things to come.
I'll link to any interesting reviews of "The Sinners" as I find them, and I'll cover the other crime comics that are soon to be released, including Dark Horse Noir, which features a short-story Criminal "emission."

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