Winners, Losers, and Survivors: A Crime Blog [Lawless Review]

November; Production Process; Heist Movies:

Criminal Vol.2 Lawless Review


Darwyn Cooke’s The Score is by far the best heist comic ever made, but the second best has to be Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ second foray into the world of Center City — Criminal vol.2 Lawless. This and Bad Night are tied as my favorite books in the Criminal series so far. In this volume we follow Tracy Lawless, a soldier who returns from Iraq back to Center City only to find out who killed his brother by infiltrating the heist crew Tracy’s brother used to roll with. 



Tracy is a tragic character, returning to a harsh world he thought he escaped when he joined the military (where he found an even harsher world). Tracy proves himself to be very ruthless and dangerous, and unlike Leo Patterson from the first volume of Criminal, Tracy is quick to get violent. Tracy carves a path of death and betrayal leading all the way up to the climax which involves a breathtaking heist.


Brubaker refrains from using a first person monologue for Tracy’s story and instead chooses to include third person narration. The point of view is a little jarring at first, but as the story progresses, the narration becomes minimal and the characters actions and words speak for themselves. This story is a great revenge tale that finds time to include kickass car chases and atmospheric, brooding detective work. The tension rises as Tracy continues to make sacrifices to get closer to the truth (and to that badass heist).


All I can say is the heist involves stealing money from a corrupt priest who runs a collection scam during a fancy church party; double crossing ensues (as always) and things just keep getting more intense. The end of the story introduces the big bad Sebastian Hyde, the crime lord of Center City who returns in later volumes.


Like Criminal Vol.1, Lawless has an excellent supporting cast. Characters from Coward return; some have brief cameos, and others play a bigger role in this story than they did in the first book. These enjoyable characters are welcomed back as citizens of Center City the reader will get to know well. The new cast is also great. The heist crew is memorable, and Sebastian Hyde gets to make his debut.

A lot of what makes these characters so unforgettable is how distinctly they’re drawn by Sean Phillips. He makes them instantly recognizable even when hidden within the cavalcade of Center City denizens. I also love the look of snow covered Center City and the blue tones Phillips adds his art to really make Center City look like a cold place, both in weather and morality.


Criminal Vol.2 Lawless is one of the best in the Criminal series and one of the best crime comics out there. Even if you haven’t read the first one, read Lawless. It’s an unforgiving classic.

Favorite Scene: The escape of the heist crew’s boss is a welcomed side trip in the story, and an amazing prison break.

Written by Tyler Ducheneaux

Images by Sean Phillips

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