THE PUNISHER / WEST COAST AVENGERS / X-MEN EXTERMINATION / BATMAN [Sunday Night Stash]: Second Time Around!
Happy weekend, fellow geeks! Summer is winding down, but that doesn’t mean the end to comic goodness! In just a few weeks we’ll have our coverage of New York Comic Con, and some of the fall’s blockbusters as well! Until then, we’ve got some great titles coming up, including two premiers from the House of Ideas, both of which are being broke down by our very own “Apostle” himself! But before we get to our esteemed apostle, let’s look at a head-to-head set of reviews of Marvel’s most deadly vigilante. Let’s kick it…
Action? Check. Conspiracy? Check. Overly gratuitous violence? Big check. Cameos and Easter eggs? Double check. Compelling story driving the reader to stay along for the ride? (Strained, elongated ‘meh’) Sort of. Punisher #1 has all the part and parcel necessities that make Frank Castle a highly trained killer with no regard for criminal life, yet the story leaves a little to be desired.
First and foremost, credit must be given where credit is due. Writer Matt Rosenberg has excellent skills in crafting multifaceted scenes with such cinematic quality that the words pop off the page. The pacing, frame selection, and perspective have elements of classic action films like Die Hard or Cars 2. Likewise, the numerous nods and references to some of the more grandiose shadow operations of the Marvel universe – Project Pegasus, I’m looking at you – pave the way for a potentially powerful plot. Yet, therein lies the problem, the potentiality. Without knowing much of the back story associated with many of the characters or visual cues, a first time reader may find the story to read like Under Siege. Not that Frank Castle would ever be appointed a Russian ambassador to the U.S., but I digress. For the hardcore fans, there is definitely enough of those tiny winks to sink your teeth into, yet both parties would have benefited from additional info. It’s like a TV pilot episode that got cut short for more commercials. A lot of really cool things happened, but still something was missing.
What wasn’t missing, however, was an intensely visceral artistic interpretation. Artist Szymon Kudranski and colorist Antonio Fabela execute a one-two knockout combo called “Law” and “Order”. A large factor in executing the pacing set forth by the written word, the artwork depicts the haunting realism of absolute chaos and destruction juxtaposed with the subtle nuance of human emotion. From bullet fire to facial ticks, the sense of motion caries the comic through epic chases as well as mundane meetings. Likewise, the vibrant color palate used to high-light the nefarious activities of Baron Zemo and the Mandarin, as well as the shiny tech billionaire Tony Stark, provide a fantastic foil for the darkness that is the Punisher.
Ultimately, Punisher #1 was more potential energy than kinetic, but pleasing nonetheless. With the hopes that the conspiracy will unfold in unpredictable ways, the Marvel mavens of the world should find a fair amount of enjoyment, yet for everyone else, I’d recommend coming back after you’ve done your homework. 4/5 Bullet-ridden Bibles.
The Punisher has always been a strange and somewhat divisive character within the Marvel Universe. There have always been those who prefer him in a hyper realistic world where he deals with things that have no place in a superhero universe and people like me who enjoy seeing how a character like that, so heavily rooted in classic action movies, would fit within a superhero universe. I tend to find Punisher stories far more enjoyable when he’s taking on established Marvel supervillains, and in this latest Punisher #1, by Matt Rozenberg, Szymon Kudranski and Antonio Fabela, certainly takes that route.
The story here also presents Frank Castle in another way that I enjoy, as a boogeyman in the background hunting those who deserve to be punished. There isn’t much more to this story than Frank killing Hydra agents and declaring war on Baron Zemo, but when it comes to the Punisher you don’t really need much more. There are a few strange cameo appearances that I found enjoyable if unnecessary, including one from a character who’s return from the dead is completely unexplained. The artwork here is also fantastic and adds a frenetic pace to the story that seems to add to the desperation of the people running from Frank. Overall, this was a fun beginning to this new Punisher run. 3.75/5 Magic Bullets.
“What the %&$#?!”
Writer Kelly Thompson and artist Stefano Caselli come out the gate with the most off-the-wall and least requested Avengers team in years, but somehow lands a great read. WCA is everything that is right with comics and orchestrated near flawlessly through humor and the use of current reality show pop culture motifs. Thompson sets up West Coast Avengers as a reality TV show concept when Hawkeye (Lady) calls in assistance and wonders why their is no one protecting the west coast, to pay for this unfunded team Quentin Quire (X-Men’s Kid Omega) decides he needs a team and has a show wanting to see him on it.
The new team as of the first issue includes; both Haweyes, America Chavez, Gwenpool, newly-minted Fuse, and Kid Omega. This ragtag team of heroes — who are in between teams — band together to first protect Santa Monica from Land Sharks and then by the end a 100ft original West Coast member Tigra. By the end of the first issue I was already going back and appreciating Stafano’s art and looking forward to the next issue. 4.5/5 Gwenpools agree!
Marvel comes out swinging with their first issue in X-Men’s newest summer blockbuster, with not one but two deaths to the status quo. As most comic readers know, Marvel is still dealing with the 2012 ‘Bendis’-era left overs that saw the original five X-men trapped in the present-day Marvel Universe. Extermination #1 appears to showcase the final return of the them back to their own timeline. Though if this 1st issue is any indication, the original five may have some trouble surviving the experience. From issue number one we see the return of classic foe, Ahab, and a new mysterious enemy that’s worth the wait for the final page.
It still remains to see where Marvel goes with this mysterious younger Fr-enemy. Where he came from and if Beast messing with the timeline may of created this younger stronger youth. Also how his mission is tied to the return of Ahab. Plus, between the death of already two mutants, even if only one was a note worthy member, and the apparent void of them along with the younger original five mutants in the new Uncanny X-Men issue number one, could Extermination break the Mutant Marvel Universe? 4.5/5 Bearded Hipster Nightcrawlers agree!
While people might have been upset at the Batman wedding issue Tom King and Lee Weeks have brought us an arc that, while slow, had such an amazing payoff. We got the equivalent of 12 Angry Men and it was beautiful. Reading Bruce Wayne dismantle his alter-ego by using Job and God made is jaw dropping. He makes the argument, quite convincingly, that Batman isn’t God — he’s human. He’s a man and therefore he is fallible. King has done a wonderful job of building up Batman and then crashing his world down around him.
It was revealed a few weeks ago that Batman would be going back to the “trunks on the outside” suit, and everyone was curious as to how/why this would be accomplished. King gave us a reason and it was hauntingly beautiful: Batman needs to go back to the basics after Catwoman left him. Week’s artwork is stunning and just works with Batman; that final panel, where we finally see Batman in his original suit while he speaks with Alfred — it is Batman, and God help anyone who gets in his way. 5/5 Batarang Bibles.