CIVIL WAR II / 4001 AD / CONTROL / THE PUNISHER [Reviews]: Modern ‘War’ Fair.
When the original Civil War tore the Marvel Universe apart in 2006 it generated a lot of hype and interest. While the actual impact it had on Marvel’s characters is debatable, it did serve as an interesting “what if” scenario and allowed the writers to explore different sides of established characters.
There is, now, another conflict brewing and this time it involves the Inhumans and a particular one known as Ulysses who can see the future. While his powers are used to avert a major catastrophe, Tony Stark (Ironman) has a lot of questions about what these types of abilities mean for the future of superheroes. This is literally the plot of the film Minority Report, only applied to Marvel superheroes. After another event that affects some team members and results in a tragedy, Stark and Captain Marvel are at odds: Stark says they shouldn’t use Ulysses’ abilities and Captain Marvel says that no matter the cost that the future must be protected.
The story was written by Brian Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil) and I’m just not a huge fan of his David Mamet style of writing. It’s very “quippy” which sometimes can interfere with the gravitas of the storyline. It’s not too egregious in this though, and it seems like he has found a much better balance over the years. The plot flows naturally and it never drags. David Marquez’s (All-New X-Men) art style looks great and Justin Ponsor’s colors really pop. If you are a new comics reader or just haven’t been keeping up with Marvel lately, it’s still easy to comprehend what is happening in Civil War II as it’s pretty self-contained. Overall, it’s an interesting story that ends on a cliffhanger, and I definitely want to see what happens next. 4/5 Bibles.
Civil War, you say? Rebirth, you reckon? Forget all that noise. Valiant is the real “House of Ideas” these days. Another summer, another summer of “blockbuster” crossovers; and again Valiant fends off these challenges with the wildest, most imaginative story and art on the market with their latest: 4001 AD.
Ostensibly set in the future universe of Valiant’s sci-fi/cyberpunk masterpiece Rai, this “crossover” series nonetheless incorporates the characters, concepts, and plot-points from series such as Eternal Warrior, Bloodshot, and X-O Manowar (the latter in a big way) into a crazy melange of high-concept epic-ness. This second issue rockets the story along, and is filled with content and value. I don’t care who’s suddenly been in H.Y.D.R.A all along after witnessing the floating orbital platform nation of New Japan transforming into a robotic space dragon to fight Rai and Gilad. It’s that cool.
Anyone familiar with Rai will know sort-of what to expect art and story-wise, with writer and artist team Matt Kindt (Sweet Tooth, Ninjak, Unity) and Clayon Crain (X-Force) returning from Rai…. for anyone unfamiliar with what to expect, just strap yourselves in for the most insane sci-fi this side of 2000AD/Judge Dredd, accompanied by the most exquisitely detailed and vibrantly colorful digitally enhanced comics art in all of comic-dom. If you think I’m overdoing things with superlatives; just buy it and see.
This issue, the second of four core 4001 AD issues, continues to ramp up the stakes and intensity of what’s shaping up to be the summer’s most interesting crossover; and at the risk of sounding like a broken record – once again, true believers – make mine Valiant. 5/5 Books of Revelation.
British writer Andy Diggle (The Losers, Hellblazer) teams up with newcomer Angela Cruickshank for Control #1, the first in a 6-issue limited series by Dynamite. Control, a crime mystery set in Washington D.C., features Detective Sergeant Kate Burnham as the protagonist. The initial antagonist, a bold and wily unnamed assassin, adds cop killer to his resume within the first few pages. Sergeant Burnham’s partner falls victim and so this becomes personal quickly.
The issue is obviously just setting up the conflict, so we meet some fellow detectives, including the usual jerks in the office. Burnham gets a new partner and starts crawling down, what promises to be, quite the rabbit hole. Of course politicians are involved and show up in a doozy of a final panel! The comic, beautifully rendered by artist Andrea Mutti (Rebels) and colorist Vladimir Popov (Noir), is all interesting angles and muted color tones against black. The story isn’t anything new, but I got a kick out of seeing a detective–who just happens to be a woman that isn’t drawn “conventionally hot”. 3.5/5 Bibles.
The Belser returns to “style and profile” on the comics review tip. Today’s subject matter: The revival of the Punisher in the new rebooted Marvel Universe. This is fresh off Jon Bernthal’s star making portrayal of Frank Castle in Daredevil (Season 2) and the recent news of the character getting his own Netflix series. But, before delving into the usual blood and guts of issue #2, let’s recap the first ish (in case ya missed it).
An old merc named Olaf is approached by a debonair man named Face about a job transporting a new drug that can turn “shrimpies into soldiers”. The crooks are under the watchful eye of two agents of the D.E.A.’s Brooklyn office, hoping to make a case on Face. As they prepare for the coming sting operation, what neither of them know is that they themselves are being watched by the vengeful eye of Mr. Castle. The sting goes down but Frank, of course, makes his presence known in a bloody and very violent way. Along the way, we discover Olaf has a past connection with Frank himself and Face is a legit psycho and you discover why he is called FACE.
I really dig Gotham Academy scribe Becky Cloonan‘s ‘TV procedural cop show’ feel to the first two issues, and her particular handling of Frank. Look, he’s sort of like Batman. If he’s saying too much, then it ain’t Frank. The second issue sees more of the same, allowing penciler Steve Dillon (Preacher) to really tell the story with his panels. Favorite scenes from both issues include an ultra bloody Frank Castle drug shootout, and a.. bullet through the eye. Yeah, Dillon’s linework can be as clean as one can get, but that’s because what he’s actually drawing is not so effing clean at all. Although not much through these first 2 issues of The Punisher is unlike anything we’ve seen before, there’s enough intrigue to keep our eyes peeled. Literally. 3.5/5 Bibles.