Comics

Criminal: Lawless: The Christmas Getaway

It all comes down to one final chase scene for Tracy Lawless. But if he's in town to avenge his brother's murder, why would he help the killer escape?

Light, and sound, and Christmas.

In the concluding chapter of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips' Lawless, the heist is finally on. But who are you rooting for?

There is seemingly no end to the supply of bad guys.

The stickup gang is filled with types you wouldn't want over for Christmas dinner. Gray the stickup man, Nelson the muscle and Mallory femme fatale passing herself off as the shill. They work as a gang, or as Brubaker eloquently puts it, 'As uncomfortable together as any other dysfunctional family... Dependent on each other for survival and security whether they liked it or not'.

Working his way into the gang's trust is the tough guy and lead of the story Tracy Lawless. He's 'a guy who can drive' when the gang need someone to drive. He's also man responsible for killing Davey the group's former driver. But for Tracy, an Army specialist deployed to Iraq now on Unauthorized Absence, infiltrating the gang is a matter of revenge. His brother Ricky, erstwhile leader of the gang was betrayed and eventually murdered by one of his own. Tracy is in town to settle the score. And supporting cast are making moves of their own. Sebastian Hyde the crime-boss looking to appear legit, Chester his muscle intimidating even Gnarly the tough-guy bartender, and Jacob the cartoonist turned counterfeiter.

Far from a single, simple panel in a chase sequence, Phillips provides readers with a map of the machinations and manipulations going on. The panel itself provides two separate layers of interference; the driving snow and the flashing lights of the squad car. It's easy to lose track of the 70s muscle car, the Dodge Charger, as it careens through the panel. As with the light and the snow, readers of Lawless don't always understand what they're seeing. Tracy's third-person observations made in caption boxes act as the layers of light and snow do, misdirecting readers' attentions. And just as the sound FX project beyond the panel, there are times when even Tracy moves beyond readers' view.

By the time of the chase depicted in this panel, Tracy has already discovered the identity of his brother's killer. They're in the car with him, he's helping them escape. But why would he do that?

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