Variety broke the news Tuesday that Criminal, the hugely acclaimed noir comic book series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, is being developed as a motion picture. Brubaker himself is writing the screenplay, which is based on Criminal's inaugural storyline "Coward" about a brilliant and eccentrically non-violent thief who finds himself horribly double-crossed. The "Coward" will be directed by David Slade, recently of Twilight: Eclipse and 30 Days of Night.

Published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint for creator-owned titles, Criminal is among the most lauded comic books published today, earning consistently glowing reviews from critics and an Eisner Award in 2007 for Best New Series. Illustrated by Sean Phillips (with whom Brubaker also worked on ComicsAlliance favorites Sleeper and Incognito), each arc of Criminal is a complete and self-contained story. But when read in sequence, the book reveals a sophisticated interconnected saga of sex, violence and, naturally, crime.

Slade, who is also attached to oversee the reboot of Sony's Daredevil franchise, based on the Marvel Comics superhero, said that "Coward" is a modern story that "harkens back to an era of crime stories where there's really a gritty reality to it, but there's a kind of underworld haze of noir."

The "Coward" film is to be produced by Hunting Lane Films, the production company behind the Ryan Gosling movies Half Nelson and Blue Valentine. Brubaker would seem to be a fan of those films and the actor, telling Variety, "If Ryan Gosling hadn't already been in Drive, he'd be perfect [for the role of Leo in Coward]. It's a good role for any actor; about a guy who's afraid to do things because of what's inside of him. It's a heist story, partly -- it's a lot of different crime stories wrapped in one, but heist stories are always exciting if they're pulled off correctly."

Brubaker and Phillips are working on a comic book sequel to "Coward," and Hunting Lane has dibs on that story as well.

There are presently five paperback volumes of Criminal available right now in finer comics shops and bookstores, as well as a deluxe hardback edition containing the first three volumes of the superlative series. For more on Ed Brubaker, including his newly announced Fatale project with Sean Phillips, simply click here.

More From ComicsAlliance