Hey everybody, it’s time for that all important time of the week where I run down a number of comic books and tell you whether they make the grade. Last week was uncharacteristically downbeat, with The Star Wars being the one bright spot in an otherwise grim slate. But the thing about comics is that there is so much on the rack that if you wait a week you might just strike gold. There were a number of books this week that I sat down and read in the hopes of giving you guys a greater variety in terms of recommendations so without further ado, let’s go ahead and get this show on the road.
General Zod storms into The New 52! Witness the origin of this genocidal maniac, and learn how far he will go to destroy those who oppose him!
Greg Pak is a writer who I tend to enjoy. I think a lot of that is holdover good will from Planet Hulk. I’ve talked to him at conventions and he seems to be a pretty cool dude as well. I picked this issue up based more on the fact that his name was in the writing credits than any loyalty to the character of Zod. I’m not sure which incarnation of Zod DC planned on utilizing this time around. I remember there being a great deal of confusion regarding Zod from his previous uses in the Our Worlds at War crossover only to be re-imagined a few years later with Brian Azzarello’s For Tomorrow storyline just to be re-purposed by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner for Last Son. This issue gives us a Zod that doesn’t really line up with any of those, and delves into an origin story for the character that allows us to start from scratch and accept this version of Zod as one that has no conflicts with previous iterations of the character.
Our Zod is one who had to survive a harsh environment in his youth, losing his emotionless parents to a savage attack by alien beasts and eventually being stranded in that hostile locale until he is rescued by the house of El almost a decade later. That time trapped in the wilderness turned him into an embittered, sci-fi version of Green Arrow. He harbors aspirations of vengeance against the alien race responsible for wiping out his family and at the same time rises through the ranks of the Kryptonian military.
Only the ending of his story, being shunted off into the Phantom Zone, the one constant that never seems to change in his narrative, seems familiar. Zod’s motivations don’t seem reminiscent of any version of the character that I can remember, although I am sure there are through-lines that I’m just missing out on. The fact that we are getting a definitive take on the character for the new 52, working from a blank slate, makes the book interesting to read because the expectations of the reader should be equally as open.
Another nice surprise was the inclusion of Faora, who stole the show in Man of Steel this summer. Hopefully the folks at DC plan to utilize her effectively, as the DCU could always use some well-written female antagonists. She gets little face time here but it is Zod’s name on the cover after all. I’ll keep my eyes out for future appearances.
All in all, a better issue on all counts than last week’s Cyborg Superman issue, which I did not cotton to at all.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5
I pretty much eviscerated the 23.1 Joker issue last week. I felt like it was a harbinger of much worse things to come. After all, if the highest profile Batman villain in the bunch couldn’t get a decent issue, what chance did anyone else stand? The Joker isn’t a hard character to wrap your mind around creatively if you approach it from the correct angle. Giving insight into a tortured childhood isn’t the way to go. The fact that we get abusive parent back-stories for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn as well just goes to show that applying the same wrote, hack writing tricks to a character like the Joker just isn’t going to fly and that is why the issue failed on the whole.
The Riddler is a hard character to get into as well. For my money nobody writes the guy as well as Paul Dini, though I admittedly liked the turn Jeph Loeb gave him in The Long Halloween and Hush. Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes take on the character here and the take is one that works. In order to understand the Riddler you need to understand narcissism and self-importance. I am surprised that so many writers have such a hard time empathizing with such emotions because as a writer you have to tell yourself constantly that you are the most talented person in the room, you’re smarter than everyone around you, and your work should stand on its own merit by virtue of escaping from the confines of your imagination. The Riddler deals in similar themes. It comes through very vividly in this issue, where he systematically bypasses each and every security measure in Wayne Tower, returning for the first time since the events of Zero Year.
Riddler matches wits with the head of Wayne’s security, who also used to be a guard he crossed paths with during a stay at Arkham Asylum. This man’s downfall is that, unlike the reader and, especially the writers of this issue, he doesn’t realize that the Riddler is more than a simple criminal. He fails to empathize and it ensures his demise. The Riddler is always three steps ahead of those he feels are below him, which is simply everyone. Riddler is the green-tinted flipside of Batman without the grace of humility. Snyder and Fawkes realize this and write him as such. The issue plays out wonderfully, especially the climax which demonstrates that the entirety of the Riddler’s mission was for a singular purpose that I won’t spoil here, but it renders the rest of the issue in a light that makes perfect sense in regards to character motivation and seals the deal that these guys know what the Riddler is all about.
This is definitely the high bar for the villains month so far. Which, given Snyder’s previous work with Batman, is not at all surprising.
Rating: 5 out of 5
If Dr. Harleen Quinzel wasn’t crazy when she fell for The Joker at Arkham Asylum, she sure was messed up afterwards! Find out more from Harley’s time with her beloved Mr. J. and see what got her into so much trouble that she was “recruited” for the Suicide Squad!
I haven’t been keeping up with Suicide Squad or paying much attention to Harley Quinn. She doesn’t resemble the character I fell in love with back in the early nineties watching episodes of Batman : The Animated Series. There is a cynicism to this version of the character that I don’t identify with. This issue gives us a beat by beat origin story for Harley, where we see that some of the elements of her original incarnation still live on. She was brilliant and became a psychiatrist, then wound up at Arkham hoping to truly challenge herself by helping the worst of the worst of the criminally insane only to be sucked into the Joker’s world. She posed as an inmate to get closer and wound up getting a little too close. That all works and doesn’t rub me the wrong way that much.
The rest of the issue does have flaws. I was not a fan of the fact that we got a beat-by-beat rundown of how she acquired pieces of her uniform. It seemed forced. And maybe I am just off base but the violence of the issue didn’t sit well with me either. There is no comedy to her rampage, just ruthlessness. I suppose that’s just the tone the character has now, but fans of the old Harley probably won’t enjoy this particular take on her. The word I used earlier was forced and that seems to be the whole issue with this revamp of Harley. They’re trying to make her something she isn’t and it simply doesn’t work. It’s not Harley. The tone is all wrong and you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole this way. I’m sure there are fans of this take, and I don’t begrudge them that, but my feelings are that such a revamp of her character makes her indistinguishable from other hyper-violent creations with no sense of irony or fun. It is a bleakness that simply does not jibe with pre-established notions of the character.
I’m probably just being stubborn, but there wasn’t much for me to enjoy here. I think I’m just not the target audience.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Eternal Warrior # 1
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Trevor Hairsine
Colorist: Brian Reber
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Dave Bullock, Patrick Zircher
On Sale: September 11, 2013
New York Times best-selling writer Greg Pak (Batman/Superman, Planet Hulk) and superstar artist Trevor Hairsine (X-O Manowar, X-Men: Deadly Genesis) launch a brand new campaign for Valiant’s immortal champion, the Eternal Warrior, in an all-new monthly series!
Across ten millennia and a thousand battlefields, Gilad Anni-Padda has traversed the darkest, most mysterious corners of history. But the horror and bloodshed of constant warfare has finally taken its toll on the man myth calls the Eternal Warrior…and he has abdicated his duties as the Fist and the Steel of Earth for a quiet life of seclusion. But when a blood vendetta from the distant past suddenly reappears in the modern day, he must decide if he will return to the ways of war…for the child who betrayed him thousands of years ago…
I went into this COMPLETELY blind. I had no idea what to expect. I just saw the cover and thought it would be worth reading. I guess the logline for the story could be Conan the Barbarian meets Highlander. We open on the brink of a massive battle in olden times. Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, an immortal but not entirely invulnerable mass of muscle and sinew, is preparing for a war against a horde of enemies who worship a god of death. Gilad forbids his daughter, Xaran, from involving herself in the battle. So opposed to her involvement is Gilad that he gives her a closed fist smack to the jaw, then rides into battle with his son, Mitu. What follows is a betrayal and a slaughter, then the passage of thousands of years, to a time when the Eternal Warrior is living Wolverine-style as a hermit with only a dog for companionship when the source of his betrayal returns.
I really enjoyed this issue. I like the concept, and Greg Pak brings the action in a way that recalls his time spent writing The Incredible Hulk all those years ago. Fans of books like Conan should give this one a read. I haven’t been following any of the new Valiant comics but this one was rewarding and a surprise pick of the week for myself. It runs a little short because so much of the issue is spent dedicated to action scenes, but overall the series shows tremendous promise. I’ll definitely be picking up issue two.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Hank Pym, Wolverine, and She-Hulk bring the students of the Marvel Universe together to announce a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS!This CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS pits the super students of schools all over the Marvel U (including some you’ve never seen before) against each other.However, the Contest is interrupted when Thanos’ forces descend on Earth. What do they have to do with the young heroes?
Man, oh man. Big event crossover tie-ins, right? Why do they even bother anymore. But hold your horses there, Mr. Cynic. This issue is something a little different. Feeling more like a companion piece to Avengers Arena and other books featuring the next generation of Marvel heroes, almost none of the issue feels like a cash-grab tie-in to Infinity. In fact, were it not for the Infinity title on the front cover, you would never know this is related to that event. The book feels more like a crash course intro into different corners of the youth oriented Marvel Universe. Characters from the Future Foundation, Avengers Academy, Jean Grey School, and more are assembled for a gathering that will put them to the test and determine which school for gifted youngsters is producing the most viable talent.
The majority of the issue, as I said, is introducing us to the concept of the book and the characters that will populate it. Only in the end are we treated to a cliffhanger that will set events into motion. I find myself marveling at how adeptly the book was able to draw me in. I don’t read any of the books involving the characters who populate the issue and yet I found myself sucked in. The script is tight and flows from panel to panel fairly effortlessly. If there is one flaw in the book it is that people who are familiar with these characters my grow easily bored with the exposition heavy element of the first issue. As it stands, I appreciated the time spent to set things up and explain everything because if there is one thing I hate it’s not being able to follow a story with characters I don’t know for a tie-in book I shouldn’t have been reading in the first place.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5
The Avengers are light-years away in space, contending with the Builders! Thanos’ marauders ransack the Earth, doing as they please! Who will stand in defense of mankind?Luke Cage! The Superior Spider-Man! Spectrum! The White Tiger! Power Man! And a mysterious figure in an ill-fitting Spider-Man Halloween costume! These unlikely heroes must assemble when no one else can—against the unrelenting attack of Proxima Midnight!
I won’ speak to Greg Land’s art. Let’s ignore that at the moment because I know it’s a deal-breaker for a lot of people. The writing of the issue works. It practically sings. Power Man (the new one, not Luke Cage) is a character I want to read more of. His voice is fun and vibrant, and his interactions with Luke Cage make for enjoyable reading. The interplay between Cage and Spidock-terman is fun and lively. Of course, this is a tie-in to Infinity and spins out of that event. If you’re not reading Infinity, it doesn’t really matter because all you need to know is explained in a matter of pages. All you need to know is that the Avengers are off-world so Thanos wants to break Earth in twain while it is undefended. Luke Cage ain’t gonna let that happen. Oh, sweet Christmas, it ain’t gonna happen.
I don’t know who Alasdair David Ewing is. I haven’t read anything with his name on the cover. This is my introduction to his work. I have to say I’m impressed. The team is filled with characters I enjoy, and something has to be said about the diversity of the team with Luke Cage, White Tiger, Power Man, Spectrum and some new guy called Spider-Hero who is an enigma and a non-entity at the moment. This is the most diverse team I can think of at either of the major publishers, something that will likely get a lot of press given how the diversity in comics debate is starting to really become the major issue of the industry at the moment.
You know what, I’ve gotta say something about Greg Land. Yes, the art is dry and terrible. I’ve seen these same traced facial expressions more times than I can count. I’m just going to leave it at that. Everyone knows Greg Land refuses to advance himself as an artist. I would say stop buying his books but he seems to land (ha!) books that are worth buying, this one included. It’s a book with a diverse cast by a new writer who seems eager to prove himself and it’s likely Land won’t be on the title forever. Do yourself a favor and get the book and try to ignore how the art is trying its damndest to give you eye herpes.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I learned something this week. Comic books are not an easy habit to downgrade. While last week I remarked that due to my financial situation, comic books would have to be scaled back for a little while alongside other things like blu-ray movies and steak dinners in order to help me build up a little extra cash in the bank, this week I found out that I can’t seem to stop myself from throwing stuff on the pile. Let me just say that while I still am going to try to restrain myself, hard as it may be because there is so much good stuff out there that I really want to read, I’m not going to hamstring myself either. If you can’t enjoy your hobbies the way you want, they sorta cease to be hobbies in my opinion.
ACTION COMICS #889 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #629 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 3.99
DEADPOOL #22 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #864 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #4 (OF 4) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #578 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #11 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #32 A CVR SEELEY (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 HA 3.99
JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 29.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #38 2.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #2 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV (MR) 4.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #36 SIEGE 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #64 SIEGE 3.99
PREVIEWS #260 MAY 2010 (NET) 2.7
PUNISHER #16 2.99
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE GN (MR) 6.99
SHUDDERTOWN #2 (MR) 3.5
SUPERMAN #699 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #3 (OF 3) 3.99
THOR #609 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #6 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #1 3.99
X-FORCE #26 XSC 2.99
And now, your weekly biased opinions.
I love a good one-off Deadpool story in which all kinds of ludicrous wackiness ensues. When you try to go epic with this particular character you can either get some amazing results like the Cable/cult stuff in Cable & Deadpool or you can get something like Deadpool Corps which doesn’t have quite the same *oomph*. This story has Deadpool being Deadpool somewhere in Georgia and wreaking vengea-justice against some corrupt backwoods hillbilly cops. It’s not high art in any way shape or form, but it feels like Deadpool, moreso than any universe-hopping counterpart he may have in another book.
In all fairness, this is the only Deadpool book on my list now. I cut off DPC and Team-Up because I wasn’t caring for them at all. They felt empty and bloated at the same time and didn’t give me anything that I was looking for in the character. Merc With A Mouth is still mostly excellent but it ends in three issues, so it might as well be gone already. I’m going to hold off on the upcoming Wade Wilson’s War mini-series, despite my immense love for Duane Sweircantspellhislastnameski because I’m pretty sure they’re gonna make an oversized hardcover for it that will look nice next to my Suicide Kings hardcover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of a bookshelf brimming with Marvel hardcovers.
My point is that the main Deadpool book is actually better than it gets credit for, and that I find it interesting that writers at Marvel, like the fanbase, have such wide and varying ideas of what a Deadpool book should be like, given that a few short years ago, Deadpool was one of the simplest characters to write. But exposure has forced multiple interpretations and I’m glad that I found the one that works for me. Maybe Deadpool Corps is the one that works for you. I can’t say. I barely made it through the first issue without vomiting in revulsion.
This issue featured maybe one of the most horrible and obvious plays on words that I’ve ever read in a comic book. I mean, it was too easy and it was telegraphed a mile away and I can’t believe that Paul Dini wrote it. The rest of the comic was pretty damned good. But I keep going back to that one cringe-worthy panel, which I would totally scan if my machine weren’t on the fritz. (Yeah, that’s why the panel of the week segment got cut, because I spend too much money on comics to afford a new scanner. I have no shame.)
The majority of this issue centers around Selina and Harley searching for a lost dog while Poison Ivy makes a first impression at her new job. I will say I was surprised by how that little section of this issue turned out. It looks like they’re not going with the secret identity idea for Poison Ivy as a long-term idea, which I was interested in seeing play out over the course of a few issues.
I think this is a good book. I really do. But this issue is a definate drop in quality from the last arc with Riddler. But then again, that could be on account of my epic Riddler-positive bias. I truly do love the Riddler, I think he’s underappreciated and misunderstood. Thankfully, Dini gets the Riddler better than just about anybody and I think he’s got plans for him down the road.
The heroic age is here. Kind of odd that Siege still technically hasn’t ended and we’re already moving on to the aftermath. Better than holding up all the books while we wait but still a bit odd. This issue is just about everything you could want in an Iron Man comic. Matt Fraction might be God, I’ll have to ask his wife if their new baby was immaculately conceived in order to prove my hypothosis. (Congrats to the both of them on that, by the way)
One thing I think that is immediately noticeable about this book is the timing. A week before the new film drops and we get a comic featuring the return of Hammer Industries, the company founded by Justin Hammer, a prominently featured character in the new movie. Coincidence? I doubt it. Just as when this book launched in the wake of the first film with a story featuring Ezekiel Stane, Fraction has organically found a way to grab the interest of any new readers who might jump on board following the release of the new movie.
The tone of the book has reverted to the same sort that it had around it’s launch. Whereas the last arc was very hyper-real with a good chunk taking place in Tony’s mind, we’re now back to the corporate warfare and industrial terrorism actioner vibe that started in The Five Nightmares. It’s a tone that really works for Iron Man, and even with all the changes Stark is going through, he seems to fit into the puzzle with ease. This truly is some of the best Iron Man writing in ages.
Here’s one of the books that proves my point about the inevitability of my comic collecting nature. I didn’t know this book was coming out this week. I completely overlooked it. But when presented with it, I took one look at the cover, saw Palmiotti and Gray’s name on the credits and tossed it on the pile. If there ever were a dream-team of comic writers, those two are it. Right up there with Brubaker/Rucka as far as I’m concerned. I mean, have you read Jonah Hex? Power Girl? Those guys are amazing.
This book utilizes what they know about the comic book business and builds an effective meta-textual story that comments on the world of comics from the inside and out. From publishing to the fans that read the product, to the media that capitilizes on its burdgeoning popularity. At the same time they manage to make a statement about the current state of the horror genre, both in the world of film and in the graphic literature medium. It’s a mixed message that they put out, I’ll admit, but then again that mirrors the content that they’re deconstructing here. Honestly, the book feels very cinematic. It has a very clear first, second, and third act and is illustrated in such a way that I felt like I was reading an adaptation of a mini-series on HBO.
I’m not going to say that this is their best work, but it is an interesting read. My only real complaints stem from the fact that due to the nature of the book, which seems to be a deconstruction of the modern horror story, the plot turns seem telegraphed and predictible. A problem that seems to plague a great deal of horror movies/novels/comics nowadays. Aside from maybe The Walking Dead, I can’t recall being shocked by a horror title in a long time. Crossed came close, but Garth Ennis can’t stop himself from being Garth Ennis, so a good deal of that book felt predictable as well, sad to say.
However, in the case of Random Acts of Violence, I can say that for the price tag, you get your money’s worth and then some. It’s a very meaty book, it feels full and complete without the need for decompression or rushed…anything. It’s simply a well put together book with a few slight snags applied due to the nature of the beast.
Optimus Prime gets dropped out of a helicopter onto Swindle. Of course I fucking liked it.
See you next week….maybe. I’m taking a trip to Louisiana that weekend and I might space out between the middle of next week and the following Monday.
Yesterday I did a little post about the creative shift on Power Girl, a book which I alone seem to be reading. That got me thinking about books that REALLY need to be getting some more attention. I thought I’d provide a public service by putting together a list of such books, in the hopes that you might put down that Avengers title long enough to read something a little different.
# 1 : POWER GIRL
This seems like the logical point at which to begin, considering that this is the title that spawned the list in the first place. The book is one of the best being published by DC at the moment and I’m not just saying that because of the boob jokes. I mean, yeah, they’re awesome. But the minute details thrown in to the characterization makes for a rich read without being too unwieldy. It’s not saddled with continuity, despite being about a character with the most convoluted history this side of Donna Troy.
I enjoy reading this book more than just about any other book out there, because the intent of the narrative seems to be to entertain rather than to advance some company-wide initiative or other such drollery. The book is able to stand on its own merit which is something a lot of titles nowadays seem to lack.
2: JONAH HEX
A western book that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in a book that doesn’t have the Vertigo banner on the cover. This is a gritty book with sharp writing and intensive art that doesn’t fit into any mold whatsoever. No other current western book has this kind of feel. Granted, there aren’t that many other western books, but in that short category, Jonah Hex is the obvious winner.
3: BOOSTER GOLD
I feel the same way about this book as I do about Power Girl. It’s one of the most entertaining books being published at the moment. Unlike Power Girl however, this book thrives on continuity. This is for the true geek out there, the one who has read every DC mega event of the last thirty years and loves alternative history books. This is for the true DC aficionado. And at the same time, it’s a great way for the newbie to learn about those same events without diving in head first. That’s the charm of Booster Gold; it’s a double edged sword of awesome.
4: SECRET SIX
No book on the market can merge dark subject matter and gallows humor into such a fun book. Gail Simone really does have an outstanding talent for creating something unlike anything else on the stands on a month by month basis. It’s no wonder that this book seems to inspire such amazing fan loyalty. And not just to the book itself or to the writer, but to the individual characters. Everybody has their favorite, and they will fight to the death over said character’s value and worth to the DC Universe at large.
Too late on this one, as the final issue just hit stands. You missed the boat on this one. But when that trade hits stands, I’m begging you to pick it up. As a bridge between the Dark Reign events and the cosmic universe being run by Abnett and Lanning, this is one of the most unique titles that Marvel published this year. It really is worth giving a read.
So if you get a chance, give those titles a try. Diversification, people. It’s important. Or else soon everything published will be an Avengers book by Bendis, and then I’ll have to punch myself repeatedly into a coma.*
*Please note that I enjoy Bendis’ Avengers titles but if you have steak day after day after day, eventually you’ll get tired of steak.
Did you miss me? I bet you did. How would you know what comics to buy if I didn’t tell you what was good or not? Surely you would be lost and you would have to find a new hobby. Like knitting. I’m sure you could do that on your own. Can you tell I’m completely rambling right now? Sorry. I went to a Dropkick Murphys concert last night and didn’t get any sleep afterward. Oh yeah, comics!
THE PULL LIST:
ADVENTURE COMICS #8 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623 2.99
BOYS #40 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 TWILIGHT PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHEW #9 (MR) 2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #19 2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #862 3.99
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #1 (OF 3) FOH 3.99
FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) 4.99
GREEN HORNET # 1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #4 3.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #1 (OF 5) 3.99
PUNISHER MAX BUTTERFLY #1 (MR) 4.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 3.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #11 3.99
And now, my humble opinions…
I’ll start off by saying that, yes, the art has taken a bit of a nosedive for this issue. The art isn’t horrible. It’s a bit muddy, but it’s not indecipherable and it clears up in scenes set in daylight. However, I believe that any art will look lackluster when following Michael Lark. Because, c’mon, it’s Lark.
The story however is right up my alley. We finally get a little background on this new Vulture and we get some throwback to JJJ’s involvement in crafting the original Scorpion. There’s a lot to love for Spider-Man purists here, while being modern enough to appeal to people who think that the old Lee/Ditko Spidey stories were too cheeseball.
One thing I would like to point out is that we once again get some acknowledgment of the daughter of Kraven’s existence. She’s been on the periphery for a while now but hasn’t been directly involved in the proceedings, it looks like we’re finally getting to the crux of the story, and I’m anxious to see how things play out.
First of all, how weird is it that this book has reached issue forty? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for that long. And yet, it’s been on shelves for over three years, and chugging along like a juggernaut each and every month.
This issue sees the fallout from the last issue, which I reviewed HERE starting to shape up. It plays with the common storytelling trope where the reader knows everything but the parties involved know only pieces of the puzzle, thus creating a sizeable bit of tension and drama. Here, Butcher has drawn his own conclusions upon finding out about Hughie’s relationship with a known supe. Hughie is unaware of Butcher’s knowlege and we start to see a bit of a breakdown within the group. As readers we’ve come to really like Hughie and hate to see him put in such a position, and we hope that nothing bad happens as a result of Butcher’s rash and brash nature, but this being a Garth Ennis book, we have a sinking feeling in our gut that something REALLY bad is going to happen soon, and so we are forced to keep reading with mindless zeal.
Batman does not appear in this book. Unless he was stealthily hiding in the shadows or something. I just feel like I should point out that this intro issue is definately a showcase for Doc Savage and the Question, providing the new readers with an insight into the diversity of their crime-fighting styles. Throwing Batman in there might have muddied the waters, I suppose. Still, I’m never going to say that something should have less Batman. I mean, wouldn’t Avatar have been even more awesome if there were some Batman in it? I just imagined There Will Be Blood with a Batman cameo. That would rock.
As far as the issue goes, they do a good job of setting up the story. It’s full of classic noiry intrigue. The kind that Brian Azzarello does so well. And the art by Rags Morales is quite effective. Remember that book called Identity Crisis (aka Mindwipe & Rape : A Musical Revue)? That was a detective story at its core, albeit a shoddy one. But the art was very well done. Morales knows how to capture the tone of a pulp/noir/detective environment and here it most definately shows.
But the next issue better have some Batman or I’m gonna start wrecking shit.
In the same comic we get a cute little comic about Venus trying to prove her worth to the male gods of the pantheon by working at a fashion magazine and a story where the Punisher goes all Chris Hanson to the nth degree on a pedophile at an amusement park.
Kind of a striking dichotomy no?
Everything about this felt…wrong. It was too modern and too keen on being hip to feel like The Green Hornet. The voices of the characters seemed off. I know that characters are open to different interpretations and that no one embodiment can be considered definate because it could always be replaced down the line. I mean, c’mon, look at Batman. But in this instance it just seems like it doesn’t fit anything previously established with the character. Like, if Superman started saying “Yo, man. Stop the crime, dude.”
I spent an entire review praising Kevin Smith’s work on Cop Out, but I cannot do the same here. It just doesn’t feel right. It just didn’t click with me. I hope it clicked with someone because Dynamite put out EIGHTEEN variant covers for this issue, and that’s a lot of effort gone to waste if everyone felt like I did about this particular issue.
The ending of the Tony Stark : Dissassembled arc hits home with a fairly anti-climactic final issue. I think that attempting to balance a fight with Ghost against the cerebral surrealism inside Tony Stark’s head led to a contrast of intent and could only really be resolved in a manner that felt overly simple in the end.
What the book has going for it however, is the last few pages which really drive home how much has changed for Tony Stark. During Civil War someone commented that they wished Tony Stark from years back could see his actions during that crisis, and here we sorta get that but with none of the satisfaction. It’s more of a shallow pity and it does a great deal toward redeeming Stark as a character. Which needs to happen considering he’s just as recognizable as Spider-Man in the public eye now.
The issue begins with a panel of Lady Deadpool seen from behind where her leg tapers off into something that looks like a suction cup. It’s supposed to be her foot.
Did I just start this review with the statement that Rob Liefield can’t draw feet? A fact that is pretty much abject fact at this point? Yes I did. And do you know why? Because it doesn’t get any better from there. The book is one long rambling fight sequence, then Deadpool shows up and drafts Lady DP into some mission and the issue ends.
There is NO substance here. And for a character where razor-sharp wit is the defining characteristic, this issue is filled with some of the dullest humor and sloppiest attempt at witty writing this side of a Dane Cook special.
My fears have been realized. Deadpool is no longer infallible in my eyes. Excuse me while I weep.
I think this book simply proves my point that the Punisher is only as interesting as the people he kills. Garth Ennis knew this. Jason Aaron knows this. And Valerie D’Orazio knows this.
If you don’t know Valerie’s story, and believe me it is a long surreal tale unlike any you’re likely to hear in the world of comics again, you might want to take the time to give her pseudo-memoir/blog “Goodbye to Comics” a look-see. It’s not a short read by any means, but it is something that begs to be read. For a quicker bio, you can click HERE.
There are two ways to read the book. You can read it knowing Valerie’s story or going in blind. If you’ve read Goodbye to Comics you can get an inkling of how cathartic writing this book must have been for her. There are themes that are definitely derived from her experiences in the publishing world and it helps to make the book feel genuine. If you know nothing about the writer, you’ll either bitch that there’s not enough Punisher in the book or you’ll comment on how the best Punisher stories of the last few years seem to use the actual character of Frank Castle sparingly. Like the shark in JAWS.
Jeph Loeb didn’t make me want to kill myself while I read his latest offering to the Ultimate universe. You may remember how I called Ultimatum one of the worst books of 2009. I stand by that. UCNU (because typing out that long ass title every time would make me want to kill myself) is about as middle of the road as you can get. It is not excellent nor is it bad. It simply is. I like where Loeb hs put Tony Stark. I like that we got to see Frank Cho draw Hela undressing herself seductively in an attempt to get Thor to “raise his hammer.” I like that nobody was eaten alive.
It’s like when Homer Simpson invented the Flaming Homer; “It passed the first test…I didn’t go blind.”
Wolverine celebrates the resurrection of Steve Rogers by having Nightcrawler fly them around the world to different bars where they get drunk and form a nice little bromance. Also there are multiple Deathloks going all Terminator on the progenetors of the next generation of heroes.
Yeah. I dug it.