Criminal #1 did the impossible. It got me to thoroughly enjoy a non-super hero American comic book. That is a rarity, I assure you. I had faith that if anyone could get me to enjoy a non-super hero comic book it would be Brubaker. I’m not a big fan of the art, but the story has certainly gotten my interest. I think that Criminal #2 should be another solid read. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins four days later from the ending of the first issue. Leo and Seymour are carefully tailing the police armored truck carrying the diamonds to make sure they know the exact route taken every day. They have done with for the past couple of days. This day, Leo has added a new wrinkle. Leo has Donnie stationed in the Police truck’s path with a broken down car. We see the police truck having to take an alternate route through the Jackson Street Runnel at rush hour. Leo says they now have their plan.
We cut to Leo and Seymour meeting with Seymour’s partner Jeff and two more crooked cops. Leo is pissed about the addition of two more cops into his plan. Leo and Jeff argue with Seymour intervening saying that it is ok to add in the two cops. Leo then says that no guns are allowed. If anyone is going to bring guns then he is out of the heist right now. Jeff agrees to the no gun rule. Leo then proceeds to begin to run down their plan for tomorrow.
After the meeting, we see Leo meeting with Greta. Greta tells Leo that Seymour and Jeff are going to screw them over. Greta says that she and Leo have to come up with some plan to protect themselves from getting shafted by Seymour and Jeff. Greta can’t back out now because her daughter Angie needs medical treatment that she can’t afford. Leo promises Greta that nothing will happen to her.
We cut to Leo making arrangements to have Ivan watched by Gnarly and his wife. Leo is afraid that if Greta found out where they were living then so could Seymour and Jeff. Leo wants to make sure that Ivan is safe. During the subway ride to Gnarly’s place, we see that Ivan is still one of the best criminal minds around. Even if he is suffering from Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know where he is at all times.
We shift to the day of the job. Leo has Donnie place a suspicious looking package outside a Jewish deli frequented by the Mayor and other officials from City Hall. When the package is discovered, the cops will be extra careful and waste a lot of man-power dealing with the situation. Seymour then called 911 to report the suspicious package. Greta and Red stage a fake breakdown to divert the armored truck from its normal route and into the Jackson Street Tunnel. The armored truck pulls into the tunnel right behind Donnie and Leo’s car. Jeff’s two extra cops created a traffic jam twenty yards ahead by stopping in the left lane next to a, “abandoned” Mini Cooper that Leo had left in the right lane thirty minutes earlier. Leo timed the city’s response time to abandoned cars and learned that it took them at least an hour to tow a car blocking a lane in the tunnel.
Leo figured that by now Seymour and Jeff were in the getaway car monitoring police traffic. Seymour radios Leo to tell him that the police cordoned off six blocks around the deli. Leo said it was time to move. Donnie started one of his epileptic fits and Leo jumped out and pleaded for one of the cops in the armored truck behind them to help his friend. One of the cops got out attending to Donnie, and Leo used a taser to stun him. The other cop radioed for police backup and then jumped out of the truck. Red tasered that cop. Red and Greta then grabbed the keys to the truck and opened up the back doors and retrieved the metal briefcase with the diamonds.
Suddenly, the Jeff’s two extra cops that were added to the job pull their guns on Donnie and Leo and yell “Freeze. Police.” The cops kill Donnie. Jeff then appears along with several cop cars cutting off the getaway rout out of the tunnel. Leo realizes that Seymour never called in the bomb threat. Jeff then kills Red and shoots Greta. Greta then kills one of the cops.
Leo grabs Greta and they jump into the Mini Cooper that Leo had “abandoned” thirty minutes ago. Leo says that he never went into a score with only one exit. Leo takes off in the Mini and slips past the cops. Leo chose this particular car because it could fit into alleys that cop cars couldn’t fit into. We see Leo making a successful getaway. Greta opens the metal briefcase and we see it is full of cocaine and not diamonds. End of issue.
The Good: Criminals #2 was an excellent read! Even better than the first issue. Brubaker turned out a real gem with this issue. The pacing was perfect. The flow of this issue was well done. The progression from scene to scene was handled well. And, as always, Brubaker served up plenty of quality dialogue. Brubaker’s dialogue has a nice conversational and casual feel to it. There is no stiff comic book-ish dialogue in this issue.
Brubaker has done an impressive job fleshing out Leo’s character in such a short amount of time. Leo is a great character study. He is truly a professional criminal with his own moral code of conduct. Leo is a real breath of fresh air compared to the average protagonist that you get in a crime story. Usually, the main character is a tough guy who doesn’t hesitate to brawl or shoot it out with anyone. Leo is the direct opposite. Leo is a perfectionist who is only interested in seeing his job to completion without getting caught. He isn’t there to be a tough guy. He wants to avoid altercations at all costs. I loved his line that he didn’t want to work with anyone who had listened to too much hip-hop. That sums up Leo’s personality perfectly.
Brubaker also has done a wonderful job with Ivan’s character and Leo’s relationship with him. The short scene with Leo and Ivan going to the subway and then riding the subway was perfect. Leo returns a wallet to an old lady that Ivan stole because they aren’t working the streets at the moment. Again, we see Leo’s strange moral code surface. Then how Brubaker shows Ivan’s brilliant criminal mind working while on the subway only to contrast it with the horrible effects of Alzheimer’s by having Ivan not even know where they are as they leave the subway train. Anyone who has had a loved one with Alzheimer’s can tell you what a devastating disease it is. A person can still be razor sharp in one area like Ivan is and then be totally confused and lost about their location or who they are. Brubaker perfectly captured this sad disease that is burdening Ivan and causing pain to Leo.
Excellent character development aside, Brubaker manages to also deliver a wildly entertaining story full of twists and turns from start to finish. By the end of this issue, the reader doesn’t know up from down. There were so many swerves as the job went from bad to worse. And to see Leo prepared for almost anything made his character seem even more impressive. This guy has planned for almost anything. And of course, the escape scene using a Mini Cooper was a great nod to the classic movie The Italian Job.
And the ending was the cherry on top. Not only did Seymour and Jeff set up and double cross Leo, but there weren’t even any diamonds in the first place. Instead, the target was a briefcase of cocaine. I cannot wait to find out where Brubaker is going to do next.
The Bad: I’m just not a big fan of Sean Phillips’ style of art. Having said that, I have warmed up to his style a bit more since the first issue.
Overall: Criminal #2 was a rocking good issue. Brubaker is weaving a wild ride that leaves the reader turning each page not knowing what is going to happen next. Leo is in a real mess. It is going to be fun watching how Leo gets himself out of this predicament. I’m really surprised and impressed that Brubaker could get me to enjoy a non-super hero American comic book so much.