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The Best Crime Comics to Ever Hit the Shelves

Updated February 19, 2020 2.2k votes 496 voters 65.8k views25 items

List RulesVote up your favorite comic books focusing on crime, criminals, and the underworld

A lot of us love crime noir comics, but which titles have the right to be considered the best? Comic books are almost exclusively associated with the superheroes, but this list of the best crime comics proves what comic aficionados have always known: just as many great stories have been told in other styles. Whether the general public knows it or not, before superheroes flew to supremacy, crime comics were just as (if not more) popular.
 

In fact, many of the biggest names working on today's superhero comics got their start on crime comic books. So early works by many of the heaviest hitters in contemporary comics can be found on this list of the best crime comics.

This crime comics list tends towards modern graphic novels, not the many, many pulpy criminal comics that were popular decades ago, after the Golden Age of superheroes. Still, there's at least one comic here that's been patrolling dark alleyways for the better part of a century.
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  • The first of Ed Brubaker's Criminal stories is "Coward," following the twisting tale of a quirky, retired heist planner who is pulled back into the life for one last score (classic). The second, "Lawless," is about a disgraced soldier who infiltrates a heist crew to avenge his murdered brother (double classic). The series embraces and innovates upon the tropes of typical noir fair.
    • Created By: Ed Brubaker
    • Publisher: Marvel Comics, Icon Comics
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  • Crime-stud Brian Azzarello's calling card starts out as a series of disconnected stories where a shadowy agent offers downtrodden individuals a choice. He gives them a murder kit (which includes 100 bullets) and a sort of get-out-of-jail-free-card arrangement if they want to seek revenge on their enemies.

    Over the course of its award-winning 100-issue run, the plot evolves into something much grander as links behind all of the murders are slowly revealed.

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    • Unlike its predecessor, this volume focuses on more and shorter crime stories centered on a crooked boxer, a Vietnam vet, a recurring femme fatale, and a comic strip artist turned counterfeiter. Most of the stories in this volumelast only a single issue, but they serve to tie together the world of Ed Brubaker's fictional Center City.
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      • The femme fatale trope is embodied by Ava Lord as she manipulates a string of men to their dooms in her plot to murder her wealthy husband. It's also a great excuse for a team-up between Marv (the star of The Hard Goodbye) and Dwight (the star of The Big, Fat Kill) who just can't let a woman suffer (even if she's evil... and lying about her suffering in the first place).

        • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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