I have already bored you with multiple reasons while this column is more of what I read this week instead of a week in review and until I get my life back in order it will continue. Football, Mom’s 90th birthday (she had me when she was 60 – do you believe that? – I don’t either) and work and blah, blah, blah has created limited time to read. Joining a book club and trying to finish the “Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest” before starting the book club stuff has not helped either. Enough of my excuses let’s get to comics.
First up is Punishermax #21 the penultimate issue of the series with one of the worse comic titles ever created. I thought Garth Ennis had done great work with this version of Frank Castle, but Jason Aaron (writer) has crafted a an equally fantastic take on Frank along with Steve Dillon (artist). This issue Frank dies after finally killing the Kingpin. I heard this series was going to be 36 issues long, but sales and corporate edicts apparently interceded and cut it short, doesn’t matter as it reads fine. I like this Frank because he is from Viet Nam and he is old. Frank is so flawed it is beyond having feet of clay, Frank is inhuman in some ways, but Jason defines it for us in this series. Frank is lost and appears to have had no love in his love and appears incapable of generating any love from within. The war gives Frank a reason to live and the killing of his family allows Frank to have a visible motive to bring the war home. Frank is not evil, as he has a strong moral code, but he is not good either. He is driven, obsessed and lost and sad. Trying to learn how to live what we call a normal live and never succeeded in making it work. This series is ending the only way it should with Frank dying. Next issue is an epilogue. I hope Frank is dead because that makes the story work. Too many comics are confined by maintaining the status quo and the max Universe allows for things to actually happen. I find this type of comic still inspires my passion in comics and capes are becoming less and less of an interest. Pick up the trades and read this series. It is Jason’s second best work (behind Scalped) and goes down as a definitive take on the Punisher character and a series that will be something people can read far into the future as an examination of a man. A character that you can admire and has much to horrify you, Frank Castle – RIP.
Next up is the Strange Talent of Luther Strode #4 (of 6) by Justin Jordan as writer and Tradd Moore on art. The book continues to pick up steam and has moved from a teen angst book to a book about power and the abuse of same. I never heard of Justin Jordan before, but I’ll be looking for his name in the future. In four issues I have been drawn into Luther’s world of being an abused child, living with his Mom who was abused by the same father. Moving tto Luther getting his wish fulfillment of gaining powers to fight off bullies and their ilk to trying to be a super hero to finding out that all of this was about something else. This issue gets into what that something else is, Luther has the talent to use this power, but they want him to exercise his power to rule and killing is just one element of it. Luther is refuses and the consequences will impact his friends and family. Justin is writing a great story and Tradd Moore’s art will not impress you as photo realistic or as super hero art, but he is a great story telling, with solid art, great expressions and has conveyed Justin’s ideas in great fashion. Hope issue #6 is just the end of the beginning.
Batman and Robin #5 has put this book right next to the Batman series itself as one of DC’s better series. As the new DCU continues to put me off, books like this will remain no matter how many DC books I cancel. Peter Tomasi (writer) with Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray (artists) are producing a terrific story of Damian’s descent back into the dark side. While I have reservations about this since Dick had starting to get through to Damian, the dynamic between Bruce and Damian makes sense that he would regress. Seeing Bruce as a father realizing he has failed his son and him tracking him across the city as we listen in to his thoughts was fantastic. As a father I know how strong those emotions can be. Watching Damian run around with Morgan Ducard and apparently give in to his darker side is equally compelling and we do not hear his inner voice. Damian could just as easily be leading Morgan on as much as anything else. At the same time we get the back story of Bruce and Morgan. It was a lot of story and extremely well done. This is one of DC’s must reads.
Scalped #55 was off the charts. The art was a little muddy and either the coloring was too heavy handed or the printing was poorly done, but the battle royal between Shunka and Bad Horse was just brutal and full of the raw emotion that has been a hallmark of this series. Jason Aaron (writer) and RM Guera (artist) have a series that will go down as one of the all time great books in comics’ history. Without a doubt this book deserves a high end hard cover treatment and it will be an easy buy for me and stay on my book shelf forever. Almost the entire book was one long battle between the Bad Horse and Shunka and it was brutal, hard and nasty. Bad Horse had lost until Red Crow shows up and kills Shunka, just as Shunka confesses his love for Red Crow. Then Dash Bad Horse turns the tables and arrests Red Crow revealing he is an FBI agent, which I think Red Crow has known that for a long time. The final arc is next.
All in all this was a good week, but I took what I thought would be best to read and left a lot unread. A few quick hit notes:
Batwoman #5 just rocked. JH Williams III is a brilliant artist and along with his co-writer W. Haden Blackman he has crafted an interesting story that has made Kate an agent of the DEO and separates her from the Bat family.
Severed #6, the penultimate issue of the series holds onto the creepy psychological horror vibe even with almost all the secrets revealed. Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft (writers) capture the essence of the time period and the horror, while Attila Futaki delivers terrific art. I hate to point it out, but there was a two page spread where the design did not work for me and I was re-reading it once or twice to figure out the panel order. This is a small quibble regarding an excellent mini-series.
Finally is Invincible #87, I love how Mark’s plan to really change the Earth with Dinosaurus has put him at odds with the rest of the super crew on Earth and the battle to save Earth from his well intentioned friends is also very cool. A lot going on and Robert Kirkman (writer) with Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn (artists) deliver a consistently entertaining title where stuff actually happens and matters. BUT, I still have a serious issue with fat Atom Eve. It has an almost misogynist taint to it. There is no way a male character is allowed to look that bad and Atom Eve is being made to be less then what the character should be.
So DC has helped me cancel a few more titles. Since DC has canceled Blackhawks and Mister Terrific with issues #8, I cancelled them after next week to help out. Since Rob Liefeld was announced to take over Grifter soon, I jumped ship with that book also. I have serious issues with the new DCU which I will give vent to over at WCS (Why Comics Suck) blog.
Next week’s list is Batman (best DCU pure cape book), Birds of Prey, Catwoman, DCU Presents, Fables, GL Corps, Hellblazer, Nightwing, Supergirl, Thunder Agents (which I also canceled), Wonder Woman (another great book), Avengers, Daredevil, Legion of Monsters, Moon Knight, Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, Chew, Near Death, Morning Glories, Cobra, Memorial, Caligula and Lord of the Jungle. Wow that is almost a reasonable list for me. That is the goal to get my list down more and more over this year. I want to continue getting comics, but only what I think is the best of the best and leave more time to read standard prose books and more time to just goof off.
Be back next week and we can do this all over again.