Thursday, July 17, 2008

Coward by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

But the way I see it . . . If you aren’t scared, in our line of work, then you just aren’t thinking. And I won’t work with people who don’t use their brains before their bullets . . .

Criminal Vol. 1: Coward
by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Icon, 2007
Crime Fiction (Graphic Novel) ; 128 pgs

My husband recommended that I try the Criminal series, sure I would like it. He's usually always right when it comes to what I will like and not like and this time was no different.

Leo is good at what he does. He is a criminal who believes in following the rules. He has his own code which has kept him out of jail and alive all of his life. His father had gotten caught after breaking one of his own rules, and Leo did not want to follow his father's fate.

One of his rules is not to trust dirty cops, and so when Seymour and a fellow officer, Jeff, interrupt his evening of picking pockets and ask him for a favor, he turns them down. Jeff claims he has inside information on a diamond transport, evidence for a case that will soon be coming to trial. Leo is still not interested. Seymour, however, knows which buttons to push, calling on one of Leo’s friends to play the sympathy card. Against his better judgment, Leo finally relents. He should have gone with his instincts. Nothing is quite what it seems, and the heist goes terribly wrong. Leo finds himself on the run and wondering how to set things right.

Leo is one of those characters I like instantly. He is intelligent and thinks before he acts. He is careful and detailed. He also has a good heart. He has been a loner most of his life with the exception of caring for his father's friend, Ivan. Ivan is a bit of comic relief in the story. He has a way with women, and, despite the fact that he suffers from Alzheimer's, some of his actions had me chuckling in spite of myself.

Sean Phillips art work is an integral part of the story. It sets the mood and gives life to Ed Brubaker's words. It is impossible to think of one without the other. The story is both compelling and suspenseful. Coward takes the reader into the seedy underbelly of the city and is full of complex characters that I look forward to learning more about in later issues.

Rating:* (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by A Criminal Blog for more information about Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker and their Criminal series.


  1. Sounds like a good book, Wendy! Give me a detective & criminal story any day. ;)

  2. I'm seriously developing a love for graphic novels and you know I love mysteries/crime fic. so I am going to add this one to my list :)

  3. Hmmm---a criminal who follows the rules and has a good heart. Very intriguing! I have still yet to read a graphic novel, but one day I'll have to cave in...

  4. Melody - I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm glad my husband steered me to it.

    Nikki - Thank you!

    Iliana - Whenever I read one, I always wonder why it took me so long to do so.

    Trish - You should try a graphic novel! I never really read them until after I met my husband. I had not realized how diverse and complex they could be. I thought for years comics were just for kids.

  5. Ditto what Iliana said - graphic novels have been a great discovery this year and love crime fiction. This must be a winner. :) Thank you.

  6. Sounds like a good story! I love it when the criminal's have some kind of morals (like Davy in Welcome to Temptation and Faking It by Jennifer Crusie).

  7. Joy - My husband is really into graphic novels and got me started reading them when we started dating. I still don't read much of them, but occasionally he'll recommend I read one he's read. I've never regretted it. :-)

    Jen - I really enjoyed it. Even bad guy's can be good. ;-)


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