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Posts tagged “The Punisher

Last Week’s Pulls

A new Star Trek book hit the shelves! The line is just being referred to as “Star Trek”. Not “Star Trek : This new series”, or “Star Trek :That new ship name” and I’m of two minds about that. Usually a title that’s just ‘ol Star Trek refers to TOS or ’09. You know, Kirk and company. This on the other hand is an ensemble book. It’s a team made up of characters from various series and incarnations, including Captian Sisko, Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, Lt. Tom Paris and Mr. Scott. I can see why it might defy catagorization, yet, I almost feel like I’d like some specific identifier for this series.

Sisko is back from the Prophets, and off on a new mission. He’s assembeled a special team aboard an experimental starship and off we go in search of dead gods.

The book itself is okay. I don’t care much for the new uniforms and don’t understand the current need to give each ship it’s own uniform (Perhaps it’s just because it’s an experimental one, like the Protostar on Prodigy, but it’s still a peeve). Not sure how I feel about Sisko’s return (Even if he is my favorite Captain). And I basically just want to slap the Vulcan. He’s a jerk. I’ll hang on for a few issues though. I’m curious to see where they’re going. Comics often get Star Trek right – sometimes even more so than TV.
 
I also picked up issue 3 of The New Champion of Shazam. I could swear I mentioned this book a few months ago – it’s a Mary Marvel book and it’s been fairly well done. Giving her some intresting character and really delving into her. That’s kind of nice to see considering the “naive little princess” routine DC had been doing with her up until the New 52.
Issue 3 starts off with a funny bit on social media.
 
I liked this. I laughed. Not just at the position it puts Mary in, but also at her flustered response. It’s a good point too – what do we call her? We’ve changed Captian Marvel to just…”Shazam”. Well, actually we kind of changed him to no name at all. But then how do we address Mary, who’s always been “Mary marvel” (The worst code name ever….after Kato that is….) Lady Shazam has a nice ring to it….
 
And then book went full She-Hulk.
 
Once again, the fans are the problem. They’re all critics and trolls and I’m just so tired of it. Fandom is Toxic and if you criticize a gender swap (which neither this nor She-Hulk were, and which NO ONE WAS DOING regarding these characters) then you’re the bad guy of the book. Forget it. I’m done with this title. a shame too because the bits with Darla (and especially the Bunny) have been gold.
 
One of the things I like to tell people is that I was a fan of George R. Martian before it was cool. I’ve never gotten into Game of Thrones, but man, I absolutely devour Wild Cards. I had the trade back in the day and I’ve been absolutely loving the series that Marvel has been publishing. (That’s another one, like Shazam, that I swear I’ve mentioned before but don’t see anywhere on the blog!). We’re up to issue four and I feel like I’m getting a different on-the-ground perspective than I do in the old Epic Graphic Novel or the books. We’re walking through the release of the alien virus, the creation of the mutants and heroes and getting reacquainted with some old friends like Doctor Tachyon and Jetboy and the Sleeper. If you’re a fan of this series from the late 80’s early 90’s, it does the property right. If you are intrigued and just looking for a jumping on point, this series is perfect.
 
Speaking of great jumping on points, there a new Guardians of the Galaxy book out. In a lot of ways, the buzz and momentum for the Guardians has basically ground to a halt, in no small part to both the too-long wait and gap between film entries, and also the news that James Gunn has jumped ship from the MCU over to DC. We may have always understood that Guardians of the Galaxy was always meant to be a trilogy and that Gunn would be bowing out after the third film, but still, this announcement definatley knocks the wind out of Marvels sails. So to generate some interest, they’ve started pushing a one shot holiday special on D+, as well as the new ride at the Disney parks and that makes this the perfect time to release a book that helps to draw you in – especially for a new crop of readers/viewers, who wern’t properly around for the MCU’s Phase two when the original film was released.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rweind is named after the ride but it’s really more of a getting to know you story focusing on the movie lineup. No tagalongs like Iron Man or Thor or Venom or Kitty Pryde here… just the core team in a generic battle that’s really just an excuse to visit with the crew. We get each character taking turns doing an interview bit schtick while the flashing back and forth to the fight. It’s fun, and it ‘s charming and it’s a great intro to these characters if you’ve only just heard a bit about them and want to check out the larger world.
 
Over in the Punisher #7 we’ve got Frank facing off with Daredevil which is always a good time. Well at least it SHOULD be a good time. And I mean, those parts of the book are. They really are. The big problem with this story is the flashbacks.
 
I first called them out on this way back in issue #3 The writers here (and there’s three of them listed, so I don’t know who’s contributing what)  have decided to rewrite Frank’s backstory – or at least, reinterpret it . It’s not something I like – this attempt ot make Frank more…evil. More bloodthirsty. It’s distasteful to me. That’s not who the Punisher ever was.  It’s certinally not how he started out, and yet, there we have it back in issue three. A portrayal of a young Frank, already a killer. Already a psychopath.
 
That’s not the Frank Castle I know. And this one they are trying to portray in this issue? I don’t know this guy either.
 
When the series began it’s run, everyone was freaking out about the change of the Skull logo and removing Franks guns and how that would ruin the character LOL! I was largely dismissive of that sort of alarmism. This was never going to be a permenant change, so just treat it as a limited series and if you don’t like it, wait for the next relaunch and #1. It was never anything to really be worried about. 
 
This on the other hand, is EXACTLY what we should have been concerned with.
 
When you make it so that Frank was a psycho BEFORE he went to war, BEFORE his family was killed, then you miss the point. The Punisher is a man pushed too far. It’s a theme we still understood in the 70’s an 80’s. You would still see it in things like the Death Wish films. Even the novel – written by a stauch, proud “bleeding heart” liberal, manages to understand and explore it, despite having an opposite philosophy. In 2022 however, we suffer from a modern sensibility, a belief that we’ve evolved past such things and such highly evolved beings could never be corrupted like this unless they were really damaged from the start. Like I said,  they miss the point and misunderstand the character – especially because in modern America, the very though of a character like this is “problematic”. As such, what is being written here is a vandalization of the character, and I fear it just might do permanent damage.

Need a palate cleanser after that? (I sure did) Deadpool is relaunching again with a story that is extremely okay right up until it kicks in to high gear on the very last page. I’ll be casually keeping an eye on  this one for the time being. And then, just because I can’t stay away, I peeked a look over at She-Hulk #7 this week. All I can say is if you just do MORE OF THIS (and less of everything else the title is doing) you’d have a perfect book.
 
 
Also over at Marvel is that ongoing Spider-man series. Look, I’ll admit I’m not sure how I feel about Spidey on a Goblin glider and the whole working for Norman Osborne is just weird. The kinda murky status quo still honks me off, but here’s a real positive I have to grant. Zeb Wells is REALLY leaning into that supporting cast. He’s building up the rest of the background characters from Black Cat to MJ to Betty Brant and Ned Leeds. he’s got all of these resources and he’s using them to make it feel almost like old times. It’s cool to see.
 
Also like old times, is spending just a bit of time leaving the Hobgoblin a mystery, with misdirect on top of misdirect, leading to a fairly shocking cliffhanger at the end of this book that really left me wanting the next issue RIGHT NOW. That’s some talent there, taking a book that alternately interests and frustrates me but keeps me coming back for more. I feel like I’m back in the Ultimate Spider-Man days again.
 
I also dipped my toe back into Damage Control. The book left me REALLY unimpressed with the first issue, but I wonder if I was judging it to harshly. I’m pretty sure I was expecting something different, but either way, It looks like they really hit their stride now with issue #3.
 
The thing is, while the overall story is fine – throwaway and kind of forgettable, it’s the background gags and visual humor that really make this thing pop.
 
 
Things start off with a story about Thor fighting a giant monster in New Jersey, swings over into an insurance fraud plot, and ends with a kaiju and giant guinea pig. It’s exactly the sort of loony stuff I used to enjoy from titles like Ambush Bug or (1990’s)Slapstick. Seriously, go pick up this book.
 
That’s it for this week. I’m encouraged that I’ve got a couple titles that really have me wanting to come back to them next time. Hope you’ll be here too!
 
 

 

 

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Early July

What took them three months to release Suicide Squad Blaze part 3? I mean, Rogues as well, but I jumped off that train with part two anyhow. 3 months for these black label titles???? *ugh* This isn’t Image comics you know guys! And everyone keeps trying to tell me the comics industry isn’t broken.

It’s strange too . the title actually got a lot worse in the intrum. I know I keep harping on the Amanda Waller as a villain thing, but they REALLY turned her into a terrible person here – off the charts. The story goes esoteric off the charts and gives the strangest Vertigo title a run for it’s money. It’s one of those things – you can go too freaky, too weird, and too edgy. Blaze revs up and goes right off that cliff.

It’s a beautiful fall though. The art is absolutely gorgeous and inspired. Standing alone it’s some wonderful rendering. But for this thing to fall apart here is a big disappointment to me – especially with me digging the first couple issues.

I’d actually completely forgotten that Batman ’89 was still going. I probably should have just waited for the whole thing to wrap up and grab a trade. I still might, now that it’s all over. a trade would look really nice next to my copy of the actual film adaption (By Jerry Ordway – my favorite Superman artist no less!)

It’s genuinely an interesting take on this universe. I’m not sure I would have been happy with it if this had been the actual third film, but then again – I wonder how much like this a film would have been. I don’t feel as much Burton influence as I think we would have seen had he made it. I also remember not being real thrilled with the racebending on Robin when it was rumored back then, but then again, I was similarly disappointed with the recasting of Two-Face when we ultimately got Batman Forever (which I DO really like). Because this exists as an exercise in theory, I think it becomes far more palatable and it’s been an interesting enough read – with the occasional moments of brilliance.

I also checked in with Daredevil. You may recall me pointing out that Devil’s Reign didn’t quite reestablish the status quo that I really wanted, rather redirecting DD into a whole new globetrotting direction – but before we do, it’s time for one last night out on the town in the big apple, busting heads with Spidey. It’s genuinely good. It’s everything I want this title to be. We’ll see where issue two goes, but this one bit of storytelling sure did make a good deposit of goodwill in the bank.

Over at the Punisher though – my patience is just about wearing out. They are doubling down on this garbage about Frank being a trouble kid and trying to retcon a foreshadowing of the Punisher into his ten year old self and ….UGH! Just read my last review. It’s all there.

There’s some cool stuff here once we get past that bit. It’s particuarly interesting to see Lady Bullseye and her companion show up to do battle with Frank…and we may just be seeing the real turning point here where he turns on the Hand. It sure feels like it, but I’m honestly not sure where this is going. For now I’m still on the ride and just enjoying the pretty pictures.

By the way, is anyone else reading Flashpoint Beyond? I grabbed issue three on impulse and then had to go back and read the rest of it. Perhaps it’s got to do with me recently reading through that amazing Flashpoint special ediditon trade, but I really enjoy this. I find most Batman comics from the last decade or so to just be impenetrable, but this actually works for me. It’s a cool continuation in that universe and actually does these characters some justice. Seriously, give this title a chance and see if you don’t dig it.

Speaking if digging stuff…I finally figured out why this current run of Ghost Rider has got me so hooked.

Quite frankly, it’s Hellblazer. This title is absolutely a new version of Hellblazer – but with more motorcycles and chains. (and not THAT many more chains – John got into some WIERD stuff)

It really occurred to me when I was watching the cop who’s pursuing him do magic. Her partner isn’t into it, so it feels cheeky and alien to him, but it’s that sort of mystical edged horror that we’re really seeing here in Ghost Rider. It gives it a freshness of dark delights that just has me totally hooked. It even spills over onto the other characters in the series. This issue it’s Ghost Rider vs the Circus of Crime. Now these guys are fine – but on the goofy side. very 70’s marvel….

This issue is the Circus of Crime like you’ve NEVER seen them before… and they are TERRIFYING.

Batgirls continues to be delightful. Normally I’d be annoyed that Babs is coming in and taking center stage, taking the focus off of Cass and Steph, but man. She’s just so CUTE with Dick. Like, I barely remember what the actuall misson was. I was just there to watch her and Nightwing flirt.
They don’t skimp on the action, never fear. There’s plenty of jumping and punching and foiled evil, but the way these characters are written is just SO compelling and I haven’t ben THIS into Dick and Babs since the ORIGINAL Birds of Prey when it was running simultaneously with the original run of Nightwing. This stuff is ABSOLUTELY back on form. I can’t believe this is one of my favorite comics going right now but is totally is.

The other title I’ve found myself looking forward too every month is the current relaunch of Archer and Armstrong. The books was always a little cracked, but it’s just complete Lunacy these days and enormous fun. Imagine opening the book to see something like this….


Like I said….just really fun. And that’s a lot of what I’m looking for these days. I know we’re only on issue three of this run so far, but it feels like I’ve gotten way more than three issues of reading out of them. I’ll leave you with this image and check back next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last weeks pulls

Worlds finest continues to be my favorite of all the current tiles out there. It’s just good straightforward adventure fare with familiar faces. Superman, Batman and Robin, Supergirl on the flash and Green Lantern… No agendas no personal politics just straightforward storytelling. That’s not to say there’s nothing complex, we’ve got an ark going on here along with various DCU characters coming in and out of the story. It’s just all really good. It’s exactly what I want. I almost feel like back in the days where I was losing interest in Superman and Batman‘s main titles, but couldn’t wait for the Superman Batman issues to come out every month. It was the same way with Spider-Man for a while too. While the main line series was kind of meandering and falling apart, I was very much getting into the late run of ultimate Spider-Man… And even, I guess I’ll admit it, Spider-Man loves Mary Jane. 

Speaking of Spider-Man, I really have weird mixed feelings regarding this new run of amazing Spider-Man. If I hadn’t spent the first week of 2022 basically catching up on the last two years of the Spider-Man comics, I swear I just walked into the middle of a storyline or something. We still don’t really know what the status quo is here, and the opening scrawl admits it. It literally says something has happened in spider-Man‘s life, but doesn’t actually tell us what. It’s maddening, especially since I’m really enjoying a lot of what they’re doing here. The whole bit with tombstone is interesting and fun. Spidey himself is being well written and somebody really understands his voice. It’s funny and sad and good adventure all at once… With a story that is fun enough for me to put up with John Romita juniors thin line nightmare style of art. But I’ll tell you what, I really do need to know what the status quo is. I need to understand what’s happening, and it needs to be soon. You got another issue and a half or I’m out. Still, for the moment….I gotta say – this one panel just sums it up.

 

I’m actually been a big fan of what Dynamite’s been doing over the years. It’s the same model as Dark Horse, lean into licensed properties, but dynamite always seems to pick ones that I’m far more interested in the dark horse ever did. Elvira‘s had a couple of series now, and honestly they’ve been hit or miss, nothing I was really digging, but the new Elvira in horror land has really got my attention. They drop her into an old movie, and she interacts. It’s actually pretty perfect. It’s kind of the thing I really enjoy with horror hosts in the first place! First issue she finds herself in psycho. Psychos got a special place in my heart, especially since I didn’t get around to watching it until I was in my early 40s when they were doing a screening up at the rain palace. I’ve recently screened it for my daughter as well, and this has got it fresh on my mind. It’s well done, poking fun at the tropes, paying respect to the characters, even taking a shot at the remake. I’m really enjoying it, but what’s really interesting for me is the last page.

Elvira escapes the movie alive, and ready for her next adventure. Unfortunately, her next adventure starts in the snow… In a remote mountain resort… With a sinister hotel beckoning in the distance.Yeah, I’m sticking around for a while on this title.

Three issues in and surprisingly enough, I’m still on board with the Punisher. I actually think this would have been a perfect miniseries. Not necessarily the main line title, but a sort of side spin off… It probably would’ve served a character better. Even if it weren’t, advertising it as a mini series kind of assures people that this is just a temporary diversion and things will be returned to the status quo. To his credit, the writer genuinely tried to reassure us of that in the first issue and I respect that. It allows me to settle in and enjoy this interesting exploration of Frank Castle as the leader of the hand. There’s a lot to like here. The concept is strong and smart, and I’m genuinely on board with a lot of what they’re doing.

Or at least, I was until now.

You see that kid on the cover of issue three? The one wearing the captain America mask? That’s Frank. 10 year old Frank Castle is the centerpiece of the story, in response to a question asked to him… “When did you first kill someone?”

 

This irritates me. It’s not the first time that we’ve seen this sort of deconstruction… This attempt to paint Frank as just an inherent killer. A fundamental bad seed. it pops up from time to time, whether it’s in the punisher showing up in the ‘Nam, or the supernatural run where the angels pick him because he’s just inherently the best murderer out there, or even the attempt at Microsoft deconstructing his personality in the punisher max series.

Wherever it happens, I hate it. It shows a basic misunderstanding of the character and his history.

It’s especially prevalent among writers who have never lived through the 70s. People who never experienced The high crime rates and massive inflation and General loss of hope (but buckle up guys, because we’re there again and in 10 years you’re gonna see a whole new crop of storytelling that represents it). They don’t properly remember Bernie Goetz taking up arms and murdering people in a fit of vigilante rage. They’ve never experienced the sort of stagnation that lead rise to books and films like Deathwish. That’s what the punisher is. He’s a fairly ordinary guy who is finally pushed too far and snapped. He’s a person who is a protector as a cop, deeply religious with training as a priest, loving as a father and a husband… Someone who’s had all that stripped away. Those things didn’t keep the killer in check, those things were who Frank Castle was. The killer is the aberration, not the good man. It always frustrates me when the riders get this wrong. It’s not enough to put me off the title, but man it’s frustrating.

Equally frustrating is the ridiculousness of Harley Quinn. That sloppy artwork just kills me, and this book is simply all over the place. Honestly, I just dropped in to check the series out, but I’m dropping right back out. Harley Quinn‘s always been a little wacky, but she’s also been serious and deadly as well. The Harley that I am reading in this book, quite frankly it’s pinkie pie from my little pony.That’s fine, that’s even fun, but it’s not Harley. 

Maybe it’s time for me to just settle back and dig into some back issues instead. Both fanboy expo and Comicpslooza DID happen this weekend after all.