Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
This is what Brubaker and Phillips are good at. Straight-up crime, sort of like their previous fan-favorite noir collaboration Sleeper. The two creators have sharpened their skills since then, however, as Phillips' pencils are positively stellar in this series (topping even his amazing job in their last series), and Brubaker's storytelling is virtually air tight. This debut issue follows a criminal, Leo, who is the best at what he does. He's got a clean record and has gotten out of some sticky situations, as the opening prologue demonstrates. Such skills make him a wanted man for jobs with all sorts of scum, the least of which are crooked cops. But there's more to Leo than his ample skills. He's had a tragic childhood, born into a family of crime, and he struggles with the death of his father and a relation with alzheimer's who's always scaring away the care he needs. And with his background, Leo has his own demons which compel him to take assignments against his better judgment, although he does have his own strict rules for what conditions he will work with.
This is an awesome debut for this title. There's a lot of promise here for a fun, plot-driven thriller with some intriguing characters in the mix. They may not be the most fully-realized, but what else do you want from a comic like this? It's interesting to have such an anti-hero in the driver's seat of this project, but he's kind of likable for his faults and his attitude toward his profession. It'll be fun to see what direction the creators take Leo in, since it's sure to be one hell of a ride, given first impressions. A