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Ed Brubaker

(1966- )
Ed Brubaker is an Eisner Award-winning comic book writer and cartoonist. Brubaker’s first early comics work was primarily in the crime fiction genre with works such as Lowlife, The Fall, Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives and Scene of the Crime. He later became known for writing superhero comics such as Batman, Daredevil, Captain America, Catwoman, Uncanny X-Men, and The Authority.
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Criminal (Volume 1): Coward: Noir comics at their best

In Ed Brubaker’s Criminal (vol 1): Coward, we get noir comics at their best. Until I first read the Criminal series about ten years ago now, I was still not persuaded that comics could be a great form of art. But once I read this series, I was convinced I should read more: I thought, if comics can be this good, then there must be many more out there like this one. And so my passion for comics began with the story of Leo, a thief who always has a meticulous plan of escape laid out before he will consider taking on a heist, and in the case of Coward, the heist will get his team five million dollars worth of diamonds from a police van carrying contraband. Leo, unfortunately, is known as a coward because of his escape plans. He is known as someone who runs away.

At the time we meet our cowardly lion, Leo has tried to stop being a part armed robberies because the last one he was in on ended with d... Read More

Criminal (vol. 2): Lawless: Should not be missed

Criminal (vol. 2): Lawless by Ed Brubaker

In Criminal (vol. 2): Lawless, Ed Brubaker tells a noir story of family loyalty. One brother — a criminal — dies and the other seeks justice, doing what he can to be an avenging angel on the wrong side of the law. When we meet Tracy Lawless, he’s been in the military, and for some unexplained reason, he’s been thrown in the hole for eighteen months (we do get the explanation later in the book). When he gets out, he is told that his brother, Ricky, died ten months earlier in February. Nobody bothered to tell him because when they put him in isolation, all communication between him and the outside world was cut off. But as soon as he finds out Ricky’s been murdered, he heads straight home seeking some kind of justice.

He is sucked into the Undertow, a bar where criminals hang out (it was originally called the Undertown but the “n” burned out back in t... Read More

Criminal (Vol. 3): The Dead and The Dying: Does not disappoint

Criminal (Vol. 3): The Dead and The Dying by Ed Brubaker


The Dead and The Dying, the third volume in the Criminal series by Ed Brubaker, continues the noir tales that began in volume one. In this series, we get the background on a few characters we’ve already met in the previous two volumes, and we are reminded that in the world of noir, the meaner you are, the more likely you are to end up on top, at least in the criminal underworld. The Dead and The Dying gives us three stories: One about Gnarly Brown, a heavyweight turned bartender, and about Sebastian Hyde, Gnarly’s friend and heir to his father’s criminal empire; one about Teeg Lawless, a pretty criminal down-on-his luck and in debt to dangerous ... Read More

Criminal (Vol. 4): Bad Night: The twists and turns in plot are some of Brubaker’s best

Criminal (Vol. 4): Bad Night by Ed Brubaker

Jacob Kurtz is the focus of Bad Night, the fourth volume of Ed Brubaker’s wonderfully disturbing noir series Criminal. His job is writing the newspaper comic strip that shows up in Criminal (vol. 1): Coward. The comic, based on Dick Tracy, is entitled Frank Kafka, Private Eye, and it’s as puzzling as the stories written by Franz Kafka, after whom he’s named. Frank is put on cases that go nowhere with leads that could never result in understandable clues. As the comic opens, our cartoonist goes wandering the streets at night, as is his custom because of his constant insomnia. He goes into a diner and has an uncomfortable verbal exchange, a near-violent one, with the boyfriend of a woman named Iris, a red-headed woman who is this comic’s femme fatale.

The story’s tension begins immediately, as Jacob’s... Read More

Fatale (Vol. 1): Death Chases Me: A must-read for fans of noir or Lovecraft

Fatale (Vol. 1): Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker

Death Chases Me is the first of five volumes in the Fatale series by Ed Brubaker and his frequent collaborator Sean Phillips. In the prologue to this story, Nicolas Lash is attending the funeral of his Godfather, Dominic Raines. Dominic was known as a hack writer of detective novels, but still, when Nicolas, as executor of the Raines estate, returns to Dominic’s home and finds the manuscript of Dominic’s unpublished first novel, it’s quite a find and possibly one with monetary rewards. But at the funeral, Nicolas already has made a more important discovery, of which he is unaware: He has met the mysterious woman, the femme fatale of the story, who goes by the simple name of Jo. When she shows up at the estate that night as Nicolas discovers the manuscript, all hell breaks lose and Nicolas’s life will never be the same again.

... Read More

The Devil’s Business: Another excellent Brubaker and Phillips collaboration

Fatale (Vol 2): The Devil’s Business by Ed Brubaker

 The Devil’s Business, Book Two of Fatale, continues Ed Brubaker’s noir thriller within a Lovecraftian universe. Josephine, our femme fatale, has been in hiding for about five years since she has gotten rid of Hank from Book One, Death Chases Me. The year is now 1978, and Miles, an out of work B-movie actor, is looking for his friend Suzy Scream. When he finds her in the basement of a party hosted by a religious cult, she is covered in blood and standing next to the dead body of Brother Stane from the Method Church, a popular cult. Playing in the background is a film of some ritualistic human sacrifice. They grab the film and go on the run before the other members of the Method Church find them. Running in the night in Los Angeles, they climb over a wall and find themselves in the backyard of Josephine’s home... Read More

West of Hell: You can’t look away

Fatale (Vol 3): West of Hell by Ed Brubaker

In West of Hell, Book Three of Fatale, Brubaker adds depth to the character of his femme fatale, Josephine. He also adds more mystery because we meet two women who look like Jo, but do not go by that name. These two women show up in the four interlinked stories that make up West of Hell. The first story is set in the Great Depression, and the second story takes us back to the Middle Ages. The third is set in the Old West, and the fourth during World War Two. Because of these jumps in time, Brubaker gets a chance to try his hand at two genres that are new to him — the Western and the war story (stories three and four, respectively). The first story, however, feels more noir-like in keeping with the rest of the series, but the second, set in the Middle Ages, has a feel all its own. It is unique out of all the issues that mak... Read More

Fatale (Vol. 5): Curse the Demon: A fitting close to the Fatale series

Fatale (Vol. 5): Curse the Demon by Ed Brubaker

In the fifth and final book of Fatale Curse the Demon — Ed Brubaker returns us to Nicolas Lash’s story throughout most of the book. The year is 2014, and Jo, our femme fatale, has decided to fight back, and with Bishop, or Sommerset, on her trail, it doesn’t take much to lure him in. The question is who is luring whom, because from Sommerset’s perspective, he’s the one reeling Jo in so that they’ll meet in a grand finale. The question, of course, is whose plan will win out — Jo’s or Sommerset’s. In noir, there really is no way to predict an ending.

When we left Nicolas at the end of the last book, he was captive of a strange man we eventually discover is Lance from the band Amsterdam. Lance has plans of a supernatural kind, ones in which a sacrifice is required, and clearly that sacrifice is Nicolas. Jo shows u... Read More

Captain America Vol. 5: “The Winter Soldier”

Captain America, Vol 5.: “The Winter Soldier” (Issue 1-14) by Ed Brubaker

There has been a long-standing rule for writers of Captain America: his sidekick Bucky must stay dead because his death is central to understanding the character of Captain America in the present. The basic story is that Captain America takes a teenaged Bucky under his wing in his fight against Nazis in World War II. In an explosion that nearly kills Captain America, Bucky Barnes dies. When Captain America is found years later preserved in the ice and is brought back to life, he is haunted by those he has lost, particularly Bucky.Bringing minor characters back from the dead and killing off major heroes to boost sales only to bring them back from the dead again is very common in comic books. Superman, Batman, and Captain America have all died — some more than once. Fans debate the artistic merit of using such a gimmick, as detractors label it. In fact, of great releva... Read More

Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker

Batman: The Man Who Laughs (2005) #1 by Ed Brubaker

Ed Brubaker is one of the best writers in comics overall, and he is unquestionably the best writer of noir comics. Batman: The Man Who Laughs is a re-imagining of what Batman’s first encounter with the Joker might have been like. In the story, the Joker makes his presence known and tells Gotham that he will kill one-by-one prominent Gothamites. He even names the specific day and time of each death. After the first wealthy target — surrounded by police and watched covertly by Batman — dies precisely on time, the story builds in intensity, particularly once Joker announces a few more targets, and the last one is Bruce Wayne. This one-shot story is a good representative of Brubaker’s noir work in DC cont... Read More

Fatale (Vol. 4): Pray for Rain: You will want to pick up Book Five

Pray for Rain by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Pray for Rain is Book Four in the Fatale series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. And the noir-Lovecraftian story continues in unexpected ways. First, we find out what’s going on with Nicolas. And then, we get the story of Jo and a grunge band in Seattle in the 1990s. But of course, there are other characters in play: A strange man named Wulf is seeking her out, and Bishop, the cult leader, is still tracing her scent.

When we last saw Nicolas Lash, he was in jail for the suspected murder of a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. He was on her trail because after sleeping with him, she ran off with his godfather’s manuscript of an unpublished first novel. He is now an innocent main imprisoned and confused about his inability to find this document. However, while he is in jail, the inmate librarian hands him a novel by Dom... Read More