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Brubaker & Phillips Channel Wertham in ‘Criminal: The Last of the Innocent’ [Preview]

Returning in June with a brand new story is Criminal, the endlessly acclaimed ICON Comics crime series created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. While always an essential and hugely rewarding read, the series’ next arc, “The Last of the Innocent,” sounds like it may be the best yet. Below you will find a special two-page teaser of the story, which tackles (very brutally, we expect) themes of loss and nostalgia in a manner that only the comic book medium can.

As you may have guessed, the new story’s title invokes Seduction of the Innocent, the infamous 1950s tome by psychologist Fredric Wertham that directly impacted the fabric of crime comic books and material of a similar nature. In a press release, Brubaker indicated the ghost of the late doctor will definitely be felt throughout “The Last of the Innocent.”

“The history of crime comics is inextricably linked to Dr. Wertham’s book, so I decided to take the innocent days of youth and put them through all of Wertham’s worst fears,” said Brubaker.

The enormous praise we heaped on the Brubaker and Phillips’ Incognito: Bad Influences goes double for Criminal, which impresses us again and again with its bitter protagonists and their unbelievably grim circumstances. “The Last of the Innocent” seems ready to do the same, but with added gusto.

“With each new Criminal arc we try to do something different,” Brubaker explained. “This time we’re trying to make the ultimate crime comic, and what I mean by that is it’s a story that only works as a comic. Yes, it’s about sex and obsession and murder, but it’s also about nostalgia for the past and things lost, using tropes of old kids comics and 50s era crime comics, but putting our brutal Criminal spin over it all. It’s by far the most ambitious thing we’ve done.”

Every Criminal arc is self-contained, but if you’re eager to catch up the entire series is available in handsome collected editions from Marvel/ICON. We recommend starting with the deluxe hardcover of volume 1.

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