Volume 1 - Coward

Author: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Titan Books
RRP: 9.99, US $14.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 610 8
ISBN-10: 1 84576 610 5
Available 24 August 2007

Meet Leo, who can plan the perfect heist, but only if he can be convinced the job is safe enough. See, Leo is not a shoot-first think-later guy; Leo is a professional. But to some criminals, even professionals, the right payout is worth almost any risk. So when an old friend and a crooked cop approach with a plan to seize millions of dollars in diamonds from an evidence transport van, Leo must make tough choices, knowing there's nothing you can trust less in this world than a cop on the take...

Coward is the first volume in the Criminal franchise; the first in a series of knife-sharp, noir-tinged tales about the people who live on the wrong side of the law. In Coward, pickpocket Leo - a man who always leaves himself a way out - finds himself in over his head when he's dragged into a dangerous heist, and winds up getting too close to a burnt-out former junkie. Torn between his instinct to run and his emotions, can he stay out of harm's way?

Ed Brubaker's script neatly sets everything up and then slowly pulls the rug out from underneath you, while Sean Phillips illustrations capture some the tragedy, and the odd touch of humour, wonderfully.

The biggest disappointment for me was that yet again someone who obviously hadn't read this graphic novel was put in charge of writing the synopsis on the back cover. One of the major plot twists is ruined - and I really am surprised that no one caught this before it went to print.

But, ignoring that slight moan, this is one series that I am really looking forward to following as it grows.

Nick Smithson

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