What Brubaker does here–a sort of prequel to the second arc of Criminal and a concurrent, companion story to the previous issue–is even better than the previous issue… which I didn’t think Brubaker could do.
Brubaker had a hard time working out the setting for Criminal in the first arc and wisely left it mostly alone in the second. But here, instead of dealing with the physical setting, he’s dealing with temporal one and he’s doing a lovely job. The protagonist of this issue is the father of the protagonist from the second arc. There are parallels between how the two men end up, but Brubaker doesn’t draw any attention to it. I don’t even think he refers to the protagonist’s sons by name, even though they were just the focus of their own arc.
This issue finally shows Criminal’s full potential as a narrative engine.