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Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward

(Criminal (Collected Editions) #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  7,450 ratings  ·  373 reviews
From Harvey Award-Winning Best Writer Ed Brubaker, and Scream Award-Winning Best Artist Sean Phillips comes the first collection of Criminal, one of the best reviewed comics of 2006. Coward is the story of Leo, a professional pickpocket who is also a legendary heist-planner and thief. But there's a catch with Leo, he won't work any job that he doesn't call all the shots ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 9th 2007 by Marvel (first published May 1st 2007)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  7,450 ratings  ·  373 reviews

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Start your review of Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Four things to know going into Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips:

1. It's a comic book...
…there are pictures and panels and dialogue bubbles;

2. Within these pages you will NOT encounter any bulging, brawny costumed superheroes or mutant-powered, tight-wearing freaks;

3. This is 100% crime noir, meaning you WILL encounter violence, blood, sex, potty mouth talk and some powerful images that may haunt you;

and most importantly...

4. Criminal…is…dripping with gold. A well-written, skillfully
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Leo grew up being a pickpocket. His old man and "uncle" Ivan taught him well. Now he is a heist planner with rules that he lives by. No guns-No cops- He calls all the shots.

A recipe for disaster when he agrees to pull a big job. Things go south in a hurry.

He ends up on the run with an elderly Ivan. (who has a bad drug habit, Alzheimer's and is pretty much a pervert- My favorite graphic novel character yet) and a woman friend that helped with the heist.

He has the cops and the bad guys chasing
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well, damn. That was depressing.
I thought this was going to be heist-y & fun, or something! But this? This was a cautionary tale. Like, they should hand copies of this out in high school, the same way they do condoms.
Don't do anything illegal, kids. It will end badly! And here's the proof...


That's not to say it wasn't good. It was! Nobody does crime/noir the way Brubaker does, and this was no exception. But make no mistake, it's dark.
The main character is a coward, in the sense that he
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
There’s a whole lot of people writing ‘serious’ crime fiction books who don’t do it half as well as Brubaker and Phillips do in this this comic book.

As the title indicates, the main character Leo is a criminal and a coward. He’s a pickpocket who used to plan robberies despite his reputation for being a yellow belly who would do anything to avoid a fight. Leo quit heisting after a job went sour and left his partners dead even as he managed to slip away which didn’t exactly do anything to change
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hmmm…. No superheroes. No dragons. No faeries. No elements of the fantastic. No alternate dimentions. Nothing speculative. Nothing odd or strange.

Why do I love this book so much?

Good character. Good pathos.

Story. Story. Story.
David Schaafsma
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gn-crime, brubaker
I have said it many times: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are the best crime comics team going. I am also reading their current Kill or Be Killed, which I love, and have read this whole series through before, but I did the rare thing for me and bought the whole 2015 re-release of the series and because I had important other work to do last night, sat down and re-read this one through. Oh, I am going to enjoy this!

What is true of the re-read of any book or series is that you get to see how the
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dark crime fiction fans
This year, I decided to download the Comixology app and jump back into reading graphic novels and comic books, which I was a big fan of when I was a wee lad. Back then, I was more into the superhero reads but now I wanted to venture into more reality based, "non-super" stories. In my search, the name Ed Brubaker kept popping up, and I thought, "Hey isn't that the dude that wrote some Captain America stuff and a few Batman stories?" Then I decided to drop some dough on his work and give them a ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, 2015

A life of crime is not for the faint of heart.
But what if you're born into it? What if all you ever learned is to pick pockets and case the joints and stick it to the 'filth'?
What if keeping your skin unpunctured by bullets is more important to you than the Big Score?

Leo has a reputation as one of the smartest, most talented guys in the bank robbing business. He is also famous for running away at the slightest sign of trouble, planning his escape routes with even more attention to detail than
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brubaker and Phillips give us a story we've all read before, but they tell it so well it kept me hooked.

Leo is the best thief in town, but he has a reputation for rabbiting at the first sign of trouble. A crooked cop comes to him with a big score, to rob the evidence track as it's shipping diamonds to a trial. Of course, things don't go as planned. Leo's in a lot of trouble and has to figure out how to extricate himself from it.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wowsers! This is Brubaker and Philip's best work hands down.

This entire story from page 1 captivated me.

It's about a job. An inside job and the guy running the job guy hires the best thief in the city, but they say he's a coward. He always runs from trouble. So why do they need him?

This crime heist is beautifully put together. All the characters shine. The tragedy, the lies, the back stabbing and the crime all come together to fulfil one incredible story, not to even mention the artwork. Wow,
Sam Quixote
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Tom Mathews
Story: 5 stars
Artwork: 4 stars
Final score: 4.5 stars
This was a surprisingly good noir story with way more character development than seen in most print-only books. If you have any misconceptions about whether or not graphic novels can be quality literature, this is a great place to exorcise them.
FYI: Coward is part 1 of a 6-part Criminal series published between 2007 and 2011. According to Wikipedia, The series was awarded the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2007 and the Eisner Award for
Kristy K
2.5 Stars

A man gets pulled into a heist involving police evidence by a man in his old crew who is now a cop. Things turn out differently than planned.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It was just ok. If you’ve read this, should I continue with the series?
L. McCoy
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like good books.
Recommended to L. by: So many people!
So, this series was recommended to me by a bunch of people but I have no idea why... By that I mean no idea why I didn’t read it sooner!

What’s it about?
Leo and some other criminals get themselves involved in a heist job, the thing is, this job ends up being much more dangerous and crazy than he could have ever anticipated, that’s all I can say without spoiling it.

Why it gets 5 stars:
The story is very interesting, well written and intense.
The narrative is super well written throughout the entire
James DeSantis
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought I'd like this more. I guess maybe if I read it BEFORE I read Kill or Be Killed I would. That and maybe if I liked the character's more.

The themes and ideas in here are solid. I really loved the art. I love how it was explained on each character and how they're different. One of the biggest thing being that each person the main character meets he interacts differently with. I also loved the backstabbing and betraying, because it gives shock value, but in the best way. Characters will
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brandon by: Stephen
Shelves: comix, fiction, 2012, noir, marvel
There is a villan in this graphic novel named Roy L. T.. I mean seriously, that's awesome.

Leo is a career criminal - Hell, it runs in his family! The son of one of the best pick-pockets in Philly, Leo has evolved the family business into a much larger, more ambitious livelihood. While he hasn't partaken in a job in quite a while, he's lured into a risky heist targeting hundreds of thousands of dollars in diamonds. Teaming up with dirty cops, can Leo trust his associates and walk away with his
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
Our hero, Leo, is not a hero, and that's the point. He's not a hero because he's a crook. He's not a hero because he'll choose to save his own skin over honor, money, and friendship. But he's also good at what he does, which is plan heists. His troubles begin when he breaks his rules (no guns, no cops, no druggies) and gets in on a heist that goes very, very wrong, and which he just can't escape from. From that point, the storytelling and characterization are detailed and realistic. These feel ...more
Chelsea 🏳️‍🌈
No one does noir like Ed Brubaker.

I give him a bit of a pass for the typical useless female character in a heist film because the rest of this was well executed.

The main character is kind of your usual mastermind character type. He grew up in the life because his father was a pickpocket and thief and he's never sought another career for himself. He's not super interesting but he's at least good at what he does so points for that. He's not particularly attractive, which makes the unnecessary sex
A solid start for the Criminal universe, but not the best Criminal story by a long shot. It’s a well-crafted tight noir story, but the spark of later-day Brubaker & Phillips collaborations is missing here — everything is a bit too lifeless and sterile, the characters are just cardboard cutouts without personality, and it’s all just a bit... blah. I did seem to enjoy this story much more when I read it for the first time, when I wasn’t as familiar with other works by Brubaker or different ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This gets pretty dark and super depressing real fast.

It's such a short story but it definitely packs as much into it as possible, i could have done with this being a little bit longer. You're not really given time to care about the characters or what happens to them really. There's a few shocking moments in this and they may have hit harder if it was bit longer. Saying that if you're after a quick shock read then this is definitely worth picking up. It's not my fave Brubaker/Phillips title but
Jedi JC Daquis
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Criminal volume 1 is the best most predictable story I have ever read. I admit that I found Coward a very engaging read despite the fact thay all heist cliches are there - an epic fuck up, crooked cops, vengeance and death, drugs, diamonds, armored vehicles.

What lacks in originality is being complemented by a good story. Coward has just the right touch of emotions to drive the characters do what they should, even if it is against their will. That emotional appeal of the story all throughout the
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
**Buddy read with the Shallow Comic Readers, theme this week: Indies!***



Reading Ed Brubaker's and Sean Phillips's Criminal Vol 1: Coward is like taking a ride deep into the dirty underbelly of every crime drama show, movie, or book you've ever read. Dirty, dirty, dirty. So rarely have I felt the iron-fisted grip of suspense around my heart as in this collection. Fuck! My heart is still pounding a half hour after finishing. Brubaker and Phillps do a great job of drawing you in to this story
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, classics, a
A very solid take on the low-life dude does a heist gone wrong tale.

Like most of the Brubaker books I've read, he executes the genre to perfection but doesn't go beyond the trappings. This would make for a very good movie, but (for many reasons) I expect more from comicbooks. I want to experience something that I couldn't experience in a different medium. This book delivers everything you could want from a book called Criminal, but doesn't do anything new and spectacular.

Highly recommended for
Stewart Tame
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leo is a career criminal. He’s never been caught, because he plans carefully down to the last detail, and he always makes sure he has a way out if things go wrong. But this latest job may be more than he bargained for ...

The only thing more entertaining than a good heist story, is a heist story gone wrong where the perpetrators have to struggle to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Criminal: Coward is an example of just such a story. Yes, what Leo does is illegal, but we're rooting for him
Enne (they/them)
I felt like the plot was all over the place in this one. And I had no idea who was who. I feel like what I was missing here was the backstory. There is clearly a lot of it, and what I was given was maybe a snippet, and definitely not enough to help make sense of what is going on in the present day, in my opinion. Additionally, I didn’t really enjoy the characters, and a lot of the scenes in this felt unnecessary and like they were there just to make the book longer and served no real purpose.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
This was recommended to me, by Goodreads. I'm not big on crime stories, but this was okay. I'm glad that it was a decent paced that was not too fast that you didn't know what was going on, but not too slow to make it get old fast. Leo is a pickpocket who was trained as a child. He's "lucky", as he never gets caught doing a job. He doesn't get caught because he is a Coward, and at the first sign of trouble he runs. But this time around his luck has run out, and well you will have to ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well the beginning was obviously setting the story and it did kind of start slow but I did enjoy it at the end. If you don't like violence and blood do not read this as it is full of it. There is 0 happiness in this book and everyone is dodgy. I did like the twists and turns, I really liked Greta and it did leave me wanting to know what happens next.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Oh damn. I just finished this and I'm going to take from Bania to best describe it - "that's gold, Jerry... GOLD". I've put off this title long enough, and now I'm really regretting it.

If you like the plot of the movie "Drive" with Ryan Gosling (who the hell doesn't?), then this volume is right up your alley. I can't wait to go get #2.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Those in the know say the Ed Brubaker-Sean Phillips pairing is one of the best in the comics industry. I took my cue from our friend David S. and started with Kill or Be Killed which according to him is their best effort to date, both as far as story AND artwork (if I understood him right), so that's where I decided to get acquainted with their work. Perhaps that was a mistake. I only say that because I'm now totally hooked on KoBK and find it delivers so much as far as story, character, ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ed Brubaker is one of my favorite comic book writers. Loved his run on Catwoman, but started being a fan of his with Fatale. So I'm very happy to finally get this series. Brubaker and Phillips are an awesome team for crime comics.

Started reading the next volume to see where this was going. Only thing I didn't like about this one was it ended with some unanswered questions, but Lawless answered one I had. I can tell this is somewhat set up like Fatale, but with a lot less Lovecraft.

Noticed I'm
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Ed Brubaker (born November 17, 1966) is an Eisner Award-winning American cartoonist and writer. He was born at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Brubaker is best known for his work as a comic book writer on such titles as Batman, Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Fist, Catwoman, Gotham Central and Uncanny X-Men. In more recent years, he has focused solely on creator-owned titles

Other books in the series

Criminal (Collected Editions) (8 books)
  • Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless
  • Criminal, Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying
  • Criminal, Vol. 4: Bad Night
  • Criminal, Vol. 5: The Sinners
  • Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent
  • Criminal, Vol. 7: Wrong Time, Wrong Place
  • Criminal, Vol. 8: Three Sharp Knocks