Pretty much my favorite crime comic of all – based on the relative handful of stories I've been able to read – is E. Sanchez Abuli and Jordi Bernet's Torpedo. The beautifully-drawn European comic chronicles the "adventures" of Depression-era New York hitman Luca Tortelli, alias "Torpedo," probably the nastiest piece of work to ever headline his own strip.
Utterly ruthless and amoral, Torpedo makes my own criminal comics protagonist, "Gravedigger" McCrae, look like a boy scout. In one of the few stories I've managed to read, Torpedo shoots a priest in the back, in church, and then washes his face in holy water before smashing open the alms box to snag a twenty. In another, he wipes out a bunch of thugs who've been hassling a fishmonger, and then takes his payment by raping the seafood merchant's gorgeous wife.
The guy's no role model, that's for sure.
Unfortunately, the English versions of the graphic album collections are long out of print, hard to find, and expensive when you do, so I haven't got many. I do have the four Torpedo comic books that Fantagraphics put out in the early 90's (under the "Hardboiled Comic" imprint), but those only whetted my appetite.
It's genuinely hardboiled, uncompromising crime fiction with some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen. Both Alex Toth and Joe Kubert have sung Bernet's praises, and it's no wonder.
Here's hoping that I'll be able to track down more of these books, eventually, or that some other enterprising U.S. publisher will have the balls to reprint them in English again.