Events, and characters, begin to coalesce as Criminal #10 sets the stage for the robbery next issue. Private Eye Dan Farraday’s obsession with Jane has led him down a dark path of drink and poor choices. Ricky, after killing a security guard, spends his time brooding over his absent brother, Tracy. Jane, meanwhile, nurses her plan for riches and a chance to escape the life, and lies, she leads. And as for Teeg, well, he’s boozing and beating up on Ricky. Where do all these characters find themselves by issues’ end? Find out in our Major Spoilers review of Criminal #10 from Image Comics.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 27th, 2019
Previously in Criminal: Tasked with finding Jane after she rips off her lover, private detective Dan Farraday, damaged by his time in Vietnam, has conceived an obsession with her, and follows her back to her home town. Jane, working her way through a series of men and their wallets, falls in with violent criminal, Teeg Lawless, and helps him pull together a criminal gang to engage in a big time robbery. And Teeg’s son, Ricky, struggles to find a place for himself in a world that doesn’t seem to want him.
FAMILY AND BUSINESS NEVER MIX
Colorists don’t often get their due, so from the top, I’d like to point out what a fantastic job Jacob Phillips has done with Criminal #10. From the neon drenched hellscape of the city, as Farraday goes about looking for Jane, to the sweat and grime of the purple tinged strip club where he is violently beaten, Phillips has brought his A-game to a title where every contributor is firing on all cylinders. Really, if you want a master class in how to bring a comic to life, take a real long look at what Phillips does with color.
Meanwhile, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips continue developing a storyline filled with damaged characters seeking to either discover a way out, or just discover themselves. Teeg Lawless is the big character in this arc, a blunt instrument of a man who sees himself as being a hammer and every problem a nail. He’s a big, dumb brute of a man who is surprisingly tender around his new squeeze, Jane. In fact, the men in this issue (Ricky aside, who’s a teenager), including Dan Farraday, who bring the toxic to toxic masculinity. Farraday, indeed, is a grim reminder that obsession can only lead to poor choices, which lead to violence and a spiral downwards into drink and more poor choices. Brubaker’s writing here, showing Farraday obsessing over Jane, a woman he has barely met, is poignant and infuriating at the same time.
Teeg and Farraday aside, it’s Ricky and Jane who wholesale steal the important scenes in Criminal #10. After shooting dead a security guard in the previous issue, and having help from Jane to cover up the crime, Ricky’s future sits on a knife’s edge. He pines for his brother, away in the military, as he has no other male role model to help him unscramble his life. After Ricky takes a beating from his father for lashing out at news that he intends to move him in with his uncle for the duration, it is Jane who surprisingly demonstrates a tender side. This sequence of panels, where Ricky almost confesses his true feelings to her, while she casually dismisses him as not being part of ‘the plan’ have an affecting tone that Sean Phillips’ art brings achingly to life. Jane turns her back on Ricky in one panel; the camera looks at him taking the verbal blow, and then comes in close just as he is about to breakdown, his face cast in shadow.
Indeed, it is that liberal use of shadow throughout the issue, as Farraday lies in darkness contemplating Jane, or Ricky discovering his brother hasn’t written to him after all in the shadows of his former home, that foretells something dark is coming, for everyone in this series.
BOTTOM LINE: MORE, PLEASE
Criminal #10 is the complete package, a beautiful marriage of story and art. A heartbreaking tale of broken people trying to patch their lives together, Criminal #10 is the (relative) calm before the storm, which is readying itself to break over the heads of our main characters.
Criminal #10, like its predecessors, is a book that delivers again and again. There’s no complacency in the storytelling, however, just strong writing and gripping art that tell a tale of poor choices and their consequences.