Newburn #4 ADVANCE REVIEW: another new case, and a commentary on IRL police in newest gritty issue

Written by: Chip Zdarsky and Nadia Shammas, Art by: Jacob Phillips and Ziyed Yusuf Ayoub, Cover by: Jacob Phillips.

Easton Newburn, ex police officer with a hardened approach to his cases, now works for the Mafia families as an independent private eye. He takes no side, investigating the crimes that the police force don’t want to touch. With being the middle man to many crime families though, is he in over his head?

Up until now, Newburn has felt untouchable but now a new client has come to him, wanting him to work for them. This client is the police union of NYC. They don’t come to ask, they are here to tell him, and Newburn knows that this won’t go down well for his other clients. So being forced to take the case of a dead police officer, and knowing this will impact his clients, is there a way to satisfy all parties, or will he just dig himself deeper into the hole he’s got for himself?

So we are 4 issues deep into this series and my biggest problem with it is still the same: as much as I appreciate the “villain of the week”, I much prefer my comic series to have an overarching story. Writer Chip Zdarsky has still managed to create a gritty world and a fantastic character of Newburn, but with a 20 page book it just feels too short for a crime to be solved so quickly. This could be changing however, as the consequences of this issue could reverberate into a series arc (maybe arc 2 could be about the issues that this book brings up).

I have to say that this has probably been the standout of the series so far in-terms of the writing. When so many comics are becoming heavily political, this book is standing in the middle and touching on real world politics, but in ways that most could agree on. Labelling the police union of NYC the biggest crime family, but the only difference is that they operate in the day. This made me chuckle as I completely agree. There will always be people bad at their jobs, but it seems as though the police unions have been protecting those people, which has resulted in so many rallying against them, which I can’t help but believe this is all their own doing. This being in a comic and comparing them to the crime families but saying the crime families have more integrity, was just amusing. I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but it was always thought that the criminals of the past had morals to a point. This is an aspect that is showcased in this series, as they all have a code to live by, and that involves Newburn. This is what makes this book stand out: its relationships of everyone towards the titular character and how he is seen as the neutral zone for them.

Jacob Phillips's artwork is as gritty and well drawn as ever. For anyone following my reviews, I’ve said quite a bit about his artwork and I love it. It just fits incredibly well to the gritty crime stories that he’s been partnering on with Zdarsky. I really loved this panel (above). Taken just before a big fight, it tells you a lot about Newburn. He knew what was about to happen, and yet he wanted to pour himself a drink to relax, and yet also has his phone out as I’m sure he would be doing most of his work on it. So just balancing both work and relaxation says how confident he is about his ability to handle the situation. A detail in another panel that I did find amusing was that Emily’s journal was written as the date of the comic's publication, which is something I never noticed from previous issues.

Overall, it was a great issue that was both thought provoking for the series going forward, and an incredibly enjoyable issue in its own right. Just another great issue from the team, and I’m looking forward to how they progress with everything.

Newburn issue 4 will be released from Image Comics on 2nd March from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology


Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.

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