My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

KOBK_15A short new graphic novel by the duo of Brubaker and Phillips falls in the tracks of their well known Criminal series, it’s is indeed another short noir story. A wrong man meets a wrong woman. What makes it different is the combination of striking blue and yellow colors, more shameless and alluring than I would expect.

A brief easy read.

The Dead and the Dying. A Criminal edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Part three of the Criminal series is a beautiful three-part story told from three different angles.

Ed Brubaker's storytelling gets better by each part, it seems. Coward was ok, Lawless was good, and this one even better.

No point retelling the storyline here, though. Never saw a point in that.


Lawless. A Criminal edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Part two of the Criminal series is entertaining, like all of Brubaker's noir graphic novels. To me, they all have the feel and touch of Westlake, Chase, and the likes of them. Brubaker is one of their kin for sure.

In essence, I'm convinced that comic books are a great medium for crime fiction, something quite on par with the great black and white noir movies. Even the ones with color, like this one, not just Frank Miller's Sin City.

This particular chapter is as good as others – it lacks one thing only – a gory finale, with blood splattering everywhere, and everyone, good, bad, innocent and guilty, moving their bodies in a well rehearsed John-Woo-of-the-80s dance of bullets and brains. On the other hand, I'd say not all good crime books end in death and suffering. So, maybe not too bad for a change, huh.


Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

A brain dead fellow on vacation a couple of weeks back, I downloaded Masha Gessen's latest book on the Tsarnaev brothers and patiently started reading it. But in the sun and all, it kinda felt wrong.

So I went to kindle store again and kept on browsing. For whatever. Simpler, I guess. And simpler I found.

About two years ago I dwelled and dwelled in various airport bookstores over buying Stephen King's Joyland novel – liked the film noir cover a lot – but in the end, never had the guts to do it. Don't get me wrong, Mr. King is undoubtedly a good writer, the one who builds a story that gets a grip of you and doesn't let go. Biggest problem – the last time I read King's stuff, I was in my teens, mid-teens, to be exact. Dead zone, the Shining, etc etc. So buying and reading King seemed, ummm, grossly inappropriate and childish for a bit older fella. Well, it did and it didn't.

I also remembered that a year or so ago I read a praise in, what was it, the Guardian, on King's Mr. Mercedes, a crime novel, a novelty for King, as there were no dead clowns creeping in the shadows. Pure crime stuff. And here I was, sun and all, finally reading King. Felt the same as watching crime TV series, the Wire, Sherlock, Breaking Bad stuff.

The beginning and mid part are totally better than the end, if you ask me – as I don't like even a shred of comical in a crime book, and this Holly character was put there for that reason. Other than that, the book has typical King's wit, but it's pulp all right. Burn after reading. Lazy as I am, still I decided, hell, I'll try the sequel Finders Keepers anyways (googled it – better reviews), as at least one thing is true – pulp reads fast.


Coward. A Criminal edition by Eb Brubaker and Sean Philips

A glossy two-book hardcover collection of all six Criminal volumes was the reason I decided to re-read volume one Coward again. Actually, on my second try it felt much better than when I first had read it. Actually, I would even say I quite liked it. Is it a consequence of volume six? Hmm, looks like I am getting older and dumber.

P.S. And now I quietly wait for the movie.


Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke

The 4th Parker book is as awesome as the first three. Undoubtedly, this the best crime fiction you can get in the moden world. Coupled with the comic book medium, it rocks.

Really, even if you don't like comic books and are afraid of the superhero-poisoned teenage subculture, try Parker. My bet, you won't be disappointed. If they ever publish that in Russian, I'm buying it for my pops on day one.



Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner

The original graphic novel behind a well-acclaimed Sam Mendez film was quite entertaining. To tell you the truth, when I took it off the shelf in a Nicosia comic book store (most likely though, English grammar requires me to say the Nicosia comic book store), I first thought it was a simulacrum, a cheap commercial spinoff from a Hollywood franchise (like a recent Game of Thrones comic series is) and not an original story. Well, I was wrong.

To sum it up briefly – either for those who didn’t see the movie, or, like yours truly, remember nothing of it – it’s a good true crime novel about gangster shootout in the 1930s Midwest. A classic story of a father travelling with a child – and guns. Reads fast, easy and is very likeable. Reminded me a bit about John Wagner’s and Vince Locke’s A History of Violence, also written in the late 90s.

The most unbelievable thing for me was a Mickey Spillane quote of praise on the front cover – I guess I was under the false impression that Spillane was more a sixties-seventies kinda guy. But naw, I now know the father of Mike Hammer went away in 2006, at the age of 88. You live and learn.

P.S. God gracious! I realized Darwyn Cooke published the 4th Parker book, called Slayground, and I missed it. Downloading already!


The Last of the Innocent. A Criminal edition by Ed Brubacker and Sean Phillips

To think about it, comic books are a perfect medium for noir crime stories, all those Dashiell Hammetts, James Hadley Chases and what not. All the messy bloody stuff that I loved to read in my early teens (alongside no less trashy horror stories, thank you, Mr. Hitchcock) are now in full profondo rosso colors spashed against the pages of a comic book.

And whilst Ed Brubacker‘s and Sean PhillipsCriminal series is of no match to, say, the Parker trilogy (and I hope for more of that as well), still, I found this story quite an entertaining read.

So I need to get some more, I guess. Both Criminal and Fatale (also written by the same duo), perfect pulp fiction, mmmm.

P.S. Sad but true – I need to stop buying comic books through comiXology. Yeah, it’s easier, and cheaper, and faster, and it lasts forever (kinda), but – there’s always but – you don’t get the same feeling when you hold a volume in your hands. Back to crazy Russian customs and amazon deliveries, and help me god.


Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke

This yellow colored Parker looked best of them all. And read best. It was the simplest story – just one gigantic hit, not on a bank, not on an armed vehicle – a hit on a whole town, banks, jewelers, company safes, all of it.

Absolutely delightful and absolutely brutal – though not as brutal as it used to be. “You've misjudged me. I don't kill as an easy way out. If I kill, it's because I don't have any choice.”

New book will be out late in 2013. I'll wait.


Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke

Parker from The Hunter is still in rage and waging a full fledged war on the Outfit, a US undercover gambling syndicate stretching coast to coast. More bodies rolling, more action, more fun.

Second novel was much more gripping than the first – at least, to my taste – and much more complex, both narratively and graphically. Never read the original, so hard for me to compare that to the base material. The built-in pages with description of various hits were a gem – but not only they.

I am seriously considering forgoing some sleep tonight and reading the third part The Score in one go. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.