The Asgardian Trade Commission 11/21/10

Posted on November 21, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

So it’s Sunday afternoon, and as always that means it’s time for the Asgardian Trade Commission.  Let me tell you, comic conventions are a great place to pick up good trades, as shown with today’s entry.  I was able to pick up the first 4 volumes of this series fairly cheaply at New York Comic Con, and now I’m going to tell you about them.

Coward: A Criminal Edition Vol. 1

Marvel/Icon, $14.99

Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips

Collecting Criminal #1-5

Criminal is pretty much what you would expect from a book with that title.  It’s a crime story, but it’s a smart one.  This volume tells a story about Leo, a career criminal if there ever was one.  Leo is described as a coward because he knows when to run from a job to keep himself out of trouble.  For that tactic, he actually has no criminal record, even though he’s been at it since he was eight.  You can call him a coward, I call that just smart.  It seems very straight forward as it starts.  Leo has a bit of a dark past, but is brilliant at planning jobs.  Two crooked cops come to him to set up a heist, which he refuses, until he’s convinced by some sense of responsibility that he has.  As always, there’s a snag in the plans and things go south, leaving Leo and another member of his crew to lay low.  And here’s where it gets interesting.  The book initially lays out some expectations for Leo, saying that he’s never been caught, that he’s a master planner, you just know that he’s going to have something to get out of this, and he does.  How he does and his response to being pushed is somewhat surprising and very satisfying, but what makes this book fun to read is the personal relationships that Leo has.  Whether it’s with his father’s old partner, or the cop he works with initially, the grifter on the subway, or his heist partner, each interaction that Leo has feels natural, and that’s a rare thing in a comic book these days, although Brubaker does it superbly in all of his books, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised.  Sean Phillips’ art is a fantastic choice here.  Phillips’ knows how to infuse a bit of noir into his art work.  Every panel is clearly readable, with just a tinge of darkness on the edges.  The way the story and the art play off each other is fantastic.  In a way, the whole thing feels like it could be a part of Sin City, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.  At $14.99, this book is a steal, so if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your amazon wishlist, get it for yourself, or check and see if your local library has it.

Odin’s Beard 5/5

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