Brubaker-Phillips have produced two of my favorite graphic novels, COWARD and now LAWLESS. If you crossed Richard Stark's Parker with Get Carter and set it all in America you'd have a good sense of what these remarkable stories are about.
Tracy Lawless escaped the slums of his country by becoming a professional military man battling in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he comes back when he hears that his troubled little brother was killed, a little brother he now feels he selfishly deserted. He should've stuck around and seen that the kid had the same chance of escaping the mean streets he did.
The novel runs on two tracks, forward and backward. Forward Lawless prowls the badlands in seach of the people who killed Rick. Backward he discovers the sad violent life the kid led.
The artwork is as dark and evocative as the writing. The mean streets have never looked meaner. The characters are neurotic enough to be different and psychotic enough to be believable in this urban-hell context. There are a few scenes that are as rich as anything I've seen in contemporary hard boiled novels.
Lawless is well worth your money and your time.