Created by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
It’s about time writer Brubaker and his partner in crime, Phillips, introduced a private eye into their long-running, Eisner-winning Criminal series. But why’d it take so long?
Since the series began back in 2006 as a limited series, published by Marvel’s Icon imprint, it’s been a wild ride full following the misadventures of a loosely connected gang of thieves, pickpockets, enforcers, army deserters, shoplifters, killers, mobsters and junkies, including various members of the unfortunately named Lawless family. Sure, there are flickers of light now and then, and even a heartbreaking moment or two, but the series is definitely on the noir side of the street, as the innocent and the guilty alike are drawn into a maelstrom of bad choices, bad timing and bad luck.
But no P.I. until now? Tsk-task.
Which is why I’m so jazzed to make the acquaintance of private eye and skip-tracer, DAN FARRADAY, who makes his debut in the fifth issue on the latest incarnation of Criminal, now an ongoing series, in the first of a promised multi-issue arc, “Cruel Summer,” set in 1988.
Farrady’s been hired by a wealthy business man to find his mistress, who’d pulled a vanishing act, and seems to have liberated a few choice pieces of jewelry on her way out. Brubaker goes all procedural in the story, charting out how Farraday tracks down “Jane” in a straightforward, no bullshit fashion, slowly filling in the blanks on the case… and on Farraday.
Seems he served in Vietnam where he readily (and rather cheerfully) admits he wasn’t a “very good soldier,” and then admits he wasn’t a very good cop, either. He drank on the job, took payoffs and once beat up a pimp, putting him into the hospital.
But “he could find people… and he liked doing it.”
Farraday’s got potential — he knows he’s no hero, that’s understood, but rather than succumb to the usual melancholy, depression and off-the-rack cynicism, he seems slightly bemused by it all. Plus he’s got a zillion tricks up his sleeves, and it’s a pleasure to watch him work.
So now he’s chasing this woman, and as he slowly follows her long and winding trail from one town to another, he discovers she’s more than just a light-fingered gold digger taking a powder. Intrigued (and maybe even feeling a little sexual heat) he pulls up to her at a bar, and introduces himself.
But it turns out she’s WAY more than he bargained for, and he ends up in a very bad place, pulling one serious looking weapon out of the trunk of his car, ready to really go hunting…
And that’s the end of the first chapter. Brubaker promises Farraday will return, in what will “probably be the longest Criminal story ever,” but that the next few issues will be focussing on Teeg and Ricky, two members of the appropriately named Lawless family.
Of course, all the writing’s by Brubaker, but it’s Phillips’ moody, noirish art, constantly moving, swirling, revolving around the characters as they dart in and other of the shadows, that brings the Criminal series home.
* * * * *
Of course, Brubaker is no stranger to private eyes. His first time working with Phillips was on the DC mini-series Scene of the Crime, about San Francisco gumshoe Jack Herriman, and he’s resurrected long-forgotten private eyes from both the DC and Marvel vaults (Slam Bradley and Dakota North, respectively), breathing new life in them, and giving them more credibility than either had ever had.
(2019–, Image Comics)
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
- “Cruel Summer (Part One): Night of the Hunter” (June 2019; #5)