By Harry Kassen — Welcome to another iteration of Get Hype, where we talk about the books we’re excited to read and why we’re excited to read them. Those of you familiar with this feature might think my pick is a little bit of a cheat, given that I’ve already read it, but my excitement for the Criminal: Bad Weekend hardcover edition is through the roof, and there’s no way I’m not going to write about it.
Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, returned at the beginning of the year with a new ongoing series and a slight change of format. As opposed to the interconnected miniseries of the original runs, 2019’s Criminal takes advantage of its ongoing format to tell shorter, one or two issue stories across time and space, all set within the established world of Criminal. If the original books were a tapestry, this new series is a collage.
Which brings us to Bad Weekend, the new graphic-novel-cum-collected-edition coming out in July. The second and third issues of the new Criminal series return to Jacob Kurtz from 2015’s Bad Night arc. It’s 1997, and he’s babysitting cartoonist Hal Crane, a legend in the comics world who’s gotten himself in a bit of trouble. It’s Jacob’s job to keep Hal out of trouble for the weekend of the convention, but before the weekend is over Jacob finds himself in a bit of trouble too.
In addition to being a truly brilliant crime story like we’ve come to expect from Brubaker and Phillips, Bad Weekend explored the seedier side of the comics industry while also getting at the heart of what makes comic book creators do what they do. It works both as a cautionary tale about—as well as a love letter to—the comic book industry.
What makes this release so interesting is that, to the best of my knowledge, this run of Criminal isn’t being collected like an ordinary series. Bad Weekend is being remastered as a new graphic novel, collecting the two-issue story as well as some new pages and other bonus material. The format will be similar to last year’s My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, which will explain to those of you who read that a part of my excitement.
It may seem that this is less an article about Bad Weekend than it is about the new Criminal series, and if you think that, you’d be right. The Bad Weekend GN Edition is a sexy new hardcover release, making it easy to talk about as an event, but the real attraction is Criminal itself. In a comics industry as troubled as the one depicted in the book, this new iteration of Criminal represents an important endeavor, both experimental and traditional, and promises new hope for an industry that many believe to be dying. As the focus shifts to graphic novels and collected editions, Criminal is both riding that trend and bucking it. There are these wonderfully crafted graphic novels for the book crowd and trade readers, but the real meat is in the single issues. Either way, with a series like this arriving every month, it’s a great time to be a fan of crime comics.
It might seem like there’s not a real point to all of this and that I’m rambling, which is arguably the point of this feature, but nonetheless, I am trying to get at something here. What I’m trying to tell you is that you should have a Bad Weekend or just go ahead and commit to Criminal. You won’t regret it.
The Bad Weekend hardcover is due out July 10, 2019.
Harry Kassen is a college student and avid comic book reader. When he’s not doing schoolwork or reading comics, he’s probably sleeping. Catch his thoughts on comics, food, and other things on Twitter @leekassen.