Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sinners

I've been on a bit of a graphic novel streak lately, and my most recent read was Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips latest Criminal trade, The Sinners. This one picks up the story of Tracy Lawless, the hardass military deserter who came back to the city to find his little brother's killer, only to discover some ugly truths and end up working as a hitman for the city's chief crime boss. Turns out Tracy's heart isn't in paid killing, so crime boss Sebastian Hyde asks him to look into a string of killings of made men. Tracy is relieved to have some non-homicidal work, but he's also got the military on his tail, and he's been having an affair with Hyde's wife. After the last storyline, Bad Night, and its predecessor, The Dead and the Dying, both of which were innovative, touching and horrifying in their own ways, The Sinners feels a bit rote.

Lawless is your average antihero, the killer with the broken heart of gold who lives by his own moral code, even if society disapproves, and the story was also a bit of a disappointment. The identity of the killers felt like a stretch, and the choice of bad guys is hardly unique.

(Spoiler Alert)

A priest who corrupts youth isn't exactly original, even if sex isn't involved (and really, hasn't the Catholic Church been kicked around enough? I'm no fan of Catholicism. I could expound on my criticisms at length but I won't. This blog is about crime fiction not religion.) Criminal usually tells unusual stories (Coward or Bad Night), or tells more conventional stories in unconventional ways (The Dead and The Dying). This particular story arc did neither. There was no big twist or ending that provoked sympathy for the lost souls Brubaker creates so well. I think this stems from the fact that Lawless just isn't that interesting of a character. His first story arc was saved by the ending, which was quite the punch in the gut for both the character and the reader, but now that he's found out the truth about his brother, and quit romanticizing his past, he's just another big man with a gun and an attitude. Hopefully the next story arc will be a little more engaging.

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