The Thief Thief

Thief of Thieves Volume 1: I Quit by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer, and Shawn Martinbrough. Image, 2012. 9781607065920.

thief-of-thieves-1Contains Thief of Thieves #1 – #7.

Thief of Thieves Volume 2: Help Me by by Robert Kirkman, James Asmus, Andy Diggle, and Shawn Martinbrough. Image, 2013. 9781607066767.

Contains Thief of Thieves #8 – #13.

Thief of Thieves Volume 3: Venice by Robert Kirkman, Andy Diggle, Felix Serrano, Shawn Martinbrough.  Image, 2014. 9781607068440.

Contains Thief of Thieves # 14 – #19.

Thief of Thieves Volume 4: The Hit List by Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough. Created by Robert Kirkman.  Image, 2014.  9781632150370.

Contains Thief of Thieves #20 – #25.

Redmond, the greatest thief of his generation, retires on the eve of a 9-man job that is set to be the heist of the millennium. He’s just successfully sued the FBI for harrassment. He tells his ex-wife that he wants their old life back. But their son Augustus is a bit of an idiot, as well as a poor thief who trades on his father’s reputation. He’s just been arrested in the middle of a drug bust. Will the feds get him to give up his father? Can Redmond make the case against his son go away? What about the debt Augustus owes to the drug cartel for the job he f-ed up?

Of course he can’t retire. Of course Redmond has to pull that big heist, the Venice job. And of course it looks like everything is going to come apart around him.

Smart, violent, and very entertaining, these were the perfect graphic novels to read after my computer crashed last week — I was in a foul mood and needed a distraction while waiting and waiting and waiting for the repair. I haven’t rooted for the “bad” guys this much since Heist

thief-of-thieves-2  thief-of-thieves-3  thief-of-thieves-4

Cops: Baghdad

The Sheriff of Babylon Volume 1: Bang. Bang. Bang. by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. Vertigo, 2016. 9781401264666.

the-sheriff-of-babylonPublisher’s Rating: Suggested for Mature Readers.
Contains The Sheriff of Babylon #1 – #6.

The Sheriff of Babylon is a gritty graphic novel set during the American occupation of Iraq in 2004. It opens with two American soldiers cleaning up “garbage” from the middle of the street — the bloody corpse of an Iraqi police trainee. Turn the page and there’s a huge, two-page spread, at the bottom are the two soldiers, in the distance, dragging the body away, oblivious to the bloody smear they’re leaving in their wake. They’ve depersonalized, dissociated, and the image is the perfect way of letting us know. The horror of the scene is only apparent to us, the readers, and only if we can magnify it with our imaginations. Apparently no one in the story is going to feel anything.

But that’s not true. On the next page we meet Chris Henry, a former cop who blames himself for 9-11 who is in Iraq to train its new police force. When told there’s a girl in a Green Zone restaurant with a suicide bomb he goes in to talk to her, to offer her chocolate. It doesn’t end well. Bang. Bang. Bang. This incident doesn’t keep him from trying to do some good. He’s supposed to take care of the body of his dead trainee. He calls his lover, Sofia, an Iraqi woman who has returned to her family’s country for revenge and power. She introduces him to Nassir, a local policeman who may be able to help investigate the murder, or to at least help return the trainee’s body to his family. But violence is everywhere, and whoever killed the man doesn’t want anyone looking into the matter.

The entire story was heartbreaking in the best way possible. It showed both the futility and heroism of trying to do the right thing in an impossible situation, and the end of the book broke my heart.

High school f’ing football!

southernbastards3Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. Image, 2016. 9781632156105.

Contains Southern Bastards #9 – #14.
Publisher’s Rating: Rated M / Mature.

This is the latest volume in the best crime series in comics. At the heart of it all? High school football. I know. I’m as shocked as you.

Coach Euless Boss isn’t just in charge of the Craw County High School’s Runnin’ Rebs, he’s also got the sheriff in his pocket and other former players helping him run the town. But as the big homecoming game approaches, a member of Boss’s coaching staff dies, raising tensions between Craw County and its rival, Wetumpka County. There’s a lot of violence and mayhem here, but this third volume in the series focuses on character backstories: the sheriff, Esaw (who wants to be Boss’s right hand man), Boone (a badass, religious backwoodsman out for justice), and Materhead (former Craw County fullback, now Boss’s thug, though he may be having a change of heart). They all come together for the big game, and Latour’s vivid, violent illustrations make it clear that it’s as brutal as any battlefield.

The last chapter beautifully sets up volume four. A marine returns home from Afghanistan. She moves into her father’s house, faces down his bigoted, sexist neighbors, and then heads to Craw County to find out how her father died.

Sale on European Artist’s Work

DieterLumpen.jpegThe Adventures of Dieter Lumpen by Jorge Zentner, Rubén Pellejero. EuroComics (IDW). 9781631406065. 260pp.

This omnibus includes eight shorter comics and three graphic albums featuring adventurer Dieter Lumpen, originally published between 1985 and 1994, written by Zenter (Argentina) and drawn by Pellejero (Spain). I must have ordered it from the Seattle Public Library when checking for new graphic novels, which I do periodically. I’m not much of a fan of realistic European comics of this time period, but artist Tim Sale’s introduction gave me a way in: he talks about Pellejero being a kindred spirit in terms of how he balances black and white in his drawings. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of Sale’s work (my favorites are probably Batman: The Long Halloween and Catwoman: When in Rome) you’ll love these stories more than a little, too.

Full of sex, violence, criminals, and settings around the globe, the eight short comics were the high point of the book for me. “A Dagger in Istanbul” opens with Lumpen on the run from a gunman in a Turkish market. He’s been hired to chauffeur a widow who is out to recover a dagger her husband donated to a museum, which has been stolen. The next short, “Games of Chance,” picks up right where this left off (as does the next, and so on.) After a run of bad luck, Lumpen must kill a man to clear his gambling debt. But after the man saves his life, Lumpen tries to find a way to do what he must and maintain his honor.

See more of Tim Sale’s art and Rubén Pellejero’s art.