Criminal #1 Is Guilty Of Being Fantastic

In 1988 Ricky Lawless is 16 years old and steals from the one guy no one should ever steal from and now his dad must make things right in Criminal #1.

Ricky breaks into an old man’s house looking for a necklace.  When the old man catches him Ricky pretends to be his grandson.  The old man sees that Ricky was looking at the necklace and tells him the story of how he got it.

In 1956 the old man known then as Mack the Monster and his friend Sal wrestled on the Japanese wrestling circuit and made a good living.  After WWII the Japanese hated Americans which made them perfect bad guys. However, the down side was wherever they went they got dirty looks.  A man at the jewelry store inside the hotel always gave Sal the dirtiest look and it bothered Sal. Sal came up with a way to get revenge.

The pair were going to leave Japan, but before they did they would rob that jewelry store.  That necklace was the only thing left from that robbery. When Mack sees Ricky taking the necklace a struggle ensues and Ricky hits Mack with an ashtray and runs off with the necklace.

Ricky pawns the necklace and is told some people you don’t steal from and Mack the Monster is one of them.  Once Ricky’s father, Teeg, finds out Ricky stole from Mack the Monster Teeg has to make amends. Teeg has two weeks to make $25,000 or Ricky gets his head bashed in.

I am a huge fan of the Criminal series and when I saw this I thought it was just some kind of reprint.  However, upon a little more research I discovered this is a new Criminal story.

The Lawless family are not new to the Criminal series and have recurred the the most in the series.  However, as far as I’m aware this chapter of their lives has never been mentioned.

This issue is right on par with all the other Criminal books and I am really excited to see how it plays out.  It is really easy to get invested in the characters and care what happens to them.  It is pretty amazing to root for a scumbag like Teeg but you really do by the end of the issue.

The story progresses slowly, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  It doesn’t seem like that is possible but that is exactly what happens in the issue.  The stakes are pretty high and even though Teeg is a scumbag he is willing to risk his life for his son and makes me root for old Teeg.

Even though this book takes place in the middle of the Criminal story anyone can read it.  This can be enjoyed without any prior reading of the series.  However, I strongly advise getting the Criminal books for any fans of crime noir stories.

I had a really hard time thinking about anything I didn’t like about the issue.  This truly is a perfect issue. This is storytelling at its finest with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips back at it in the Criminal world without a single misstep so far.

Rating: 5/5

Written by: Ed Brubaker

Art by: Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips

Cover by: Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips

Release: 1/9/19

Issue: 1

Publisher: Image Comics

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