Friday, November 22, 2019

KOBK Deluxe and Criminal Reprints.

I've been AWOL for far too long, having missed both the recording and the release of the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast, reviewing Criminal #7 back in September.  Life is hectic even at its best, but we're hopeful that we're getting back in the swing of things.

Dipping our toes in the water, we find that the big news this week is the release of the oversized, deluxe hardcover of Brubaker and Phillips' vigilante thriller, Kill Or Be Killed.  The book arrives a week past its original solicitation date, and it's the largest deluxe edition released by the team, with more than 600 pages collecting all twenty issues along with Sean Phillips' artwork for the covers, the bonus essays, and more.

In a newsletter sent out this week, Ed Brubaker writes that the book has a sewn spine and doesn't feel too big despite its page length -- and he has nothing but praise for the final product.

Honestly, I can't express how well this book came together. From cover-to-cover, just a gorgeous package. Sean really outdid himself on the design.

As my wife has already been gently reminded, the book will make a great Christmas gift for the hardcore fan of Brubaker and Phillips, but we also have a few other Criminal-related reprints on our radar.

Earlier this month, Image Comics released its third Image Firsts Compendium, a trade paperback collecting a handful of its $1 reprints -- evidently as just a bundle of the individual dollar printings.  As with the first volume and its inclusion of The Fade Out, this collection features Brubaker and Phillips, this time with August's reprint of the debut issue of Criminal from 2006, whose now iconic cover art graces the top half of the trade collection's cover. Collecting eight first issues and retailing for only $5.99, the collection is an even better bargain than the individual Image Firsts reprints, and so it makes a great introduction to some of the publisher's high-profile creator-owned comics.

In his newsletter, Brubaker relays that the original hardcover release is now out of print(!), so the softcover edition of My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is on its way.  This Criminal novella is currently scheduled for a December 4th release, moved from the original solicited date of November 13th.  Brubaker says this new printing is still special despite its soft cover, with the same "raw paper stock" and French flaps on the covers -- and the newsletter's small image of the cover suggests that branding will emphasize the book's Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Album.

And, one thing I haven't seen Brubaker mention is a very interesting, exclusive news item from The Beat: on October 22nd, the site posted a press release from Dark Horse Books, announcing a new hardcover printing of its Noir anthology.  Originally published as a trade paperback in 2009, Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics featured 120 pages of original black-and-white crime stories, including a six-page Criminal "emission," the first and (so far) only such story without a colorist.  "21st Century Noir" was included in the second deluxe hardcover collection for Criminal, but it has otherwise been hard to track down, and this printing -- in hardcover, and scheduled for a July 22nd release -- will introduce new readers to this rather brutal story, along with quite a few gems from other great creators.

And those looking for new material from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips won't have long to wait.   Criminal #10 is scheduled to reach stores this Wednesday, and Brubaker has already shared four preview pages; after that, issue #11 is scheduled for a Christmas release, and the almost certainly bloody conclusion to "Cruel Summer" is scheduled for the middle of winter, specifically the last week of January.

We're quite looking forward to it.

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