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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dying is harder than killing"
The first book in writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips' noir series "Criminal" gets off to a blistering start with the excellent "Coward". The story of a career criminal who started out as a pickpocket before moving onto heists, this man's trait is of surviving each time he gets confronted with danger and getting away. Is he a coward or just smart? He gets involved...
Published on 2 April 2011 by Sam Quixote

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I was expecting a lot from this graphic novel but was sorely disappointed. I found the characters one dimensional cliches and the story much the same. While the drawings were technically sound and cinematic i felt that they lacked any real character or originality from the artist, Sean Phillips - like he had traced stills from a film. I think if i had read this when i was...
Published on 14 Oct 2011 by Wocca


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dying is harder than killing", 2 April 2011
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Criminal (Volume 1): Coward (Paperback)
The first book in writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips' noir series "Criminal" gets off to a blistering start with the excellent "Coward". The story of a career criminal who started out as a pickpocket before moving onto heists, this man's trait is of surviving each time he gets confronted with danger and getting away. Is he a coward or just smart? He gets involved in a diamond heist with bent cops and shady past accomplices which inevitably goes awry leading to him going on the run with the stolen loot and his deceased best friend's wife until events cause him to confront who he is and what he has to do.

I thought this was a typical noir tale that would be told at a pedestrian pace with good art but Brubaker does a fantastic job of keeping up the action once it gets going and keeping it there, knocking it up a notch for the final showdown. Having read this creative duo's other effort, the more recent book "Incognito" and finding it somewhat lacking in substance, I was glad to find "Coward" was a lot better. It was more interesting with better characters, especially the lead, and even Phillips' artwork seemed better in this.

If the other books in the series are up to this standard then I can't wait to get started on them, but this is a series that has books that can be read as stand-alones, they aren't connected by an overarching storyline. And if you're looking for a noir thriller that's got plenty of action and pace to it, you can't go wrong with "Coward" for an excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Treat, 1 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Criminal (Volume 1): Coward (Paperback)
If you like crime fiction, if you enjoy graphic novels, or if you just enjoy masterful storytelling, then you'll enjoy 'Coward'. Is it pulp? Maybe, but a fine example of just how good pulp can be in skilled hands.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 21 July 2012
This review is from: Criminal (Volume 1): Coward (Paperback)
Before superheroes people read comics about crime. Proper old-school noir comics which featured the words gumshoe and caper. That genre has all but disappeared but makes a welcome return here.

Fusing old school Dick Tracy and original Oceans' Eleven with modern day examples such as Heat and Pulp Fiction this tale is a real treat. Told in the classic style of alternating third-person action with first person narration we follow a lone criminal with a code who undertakes one last heist which goes as wrong as they always do.

It twist and turns then shocks and awes you but always in moderation and only when appropriate. Overall the pacing is unhurried and the central monologue does a great job of slowing the pace and building up tension. It is a tale that has been told a thousand times but this is certainly one of the better recitals. There are just enough hints at the past to flesh out the central character and you certainly grow to like him quickly. Other than an all too convenient character introduction that feels a bit leftfield this is an excellent work. As a standalone story the writer has the freedom to really shake things up and doesn't pull any punches.

The art is appropriate to the style pushing the dim and dingy to the max and using heavy black shadows and thick outlines copiously. It definitely feels like vintage Batman era stuff. There isn't a lot of detail but the characters are all well defined and there are some great facial expressions when necessary. It sticks rigidly to the three tier grid system with many thin panels per line packing a lot in per page. Virtually every panel has a person and speech in it yet it never feels too wordy or cluttered. Noir is all about dramatic and relevant conversation and this hits the nail on the head.

There is also a tale within a tale with the occasional appearance of a newspaper strip featuring a private detective. It's not the Black Freighter of Watchmen but a nice little in-joke for those who care to smile at it.

Other than a well plotted narrative there are some nice nods to previous classics with a great Italian Job reference. This is a very worthwhile read that ticks all the boxes. Thumbs Up!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rule #1: Look after yourself, 16 April 2008
This review is from: Criminal (Volume 1): Coward (Paperback)
A life of crime? Wonderful imaging accompanies this gritty no-nonsense look at the life of a career criminal. The job proved too much. A real gem in a niche market, makes this worth holding on to for a long time.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 14 Oct 2011
By 
Wocca (Arsenal - Home of football) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Criminal (Volume 1): Coward (Paperback)
I was expecting a lot from this graphic novel but was sorely disappointed. I found the characters one dimensional cliches and the story much the same. While the drawings were technically sound and cinematic i felt that they lacked any real character or originality from the artist, Sean Phillips - like he had traced stills from a film. I think if i had read this when i was 15 i would have enjoyed but sadly those days are long gone!
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Criminal (Volume 1): Coward
Criminal (Volume 1): Coward by Sean Phillips (Paperback - 24 Aug 2007)
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