Review: Punisher War Journal #26

Punisher War Journal #26

(****)

Ah Fraction, I love you man. The last year of this series has, for the most part, been mediocre or worse, but you know what? Fraction knows that too. In this issue, the writer tells us why this series didn’t work. Sure, you could just have some fun with this zany Christmas adventure, but this is really a commentary on the entire series and the Punisher in general.

“You punish the guilty, Frank. Not the stupid.” That’s from Rhino, the ridiculous voice of reason. Think about it, when has this series worked? When it embraced its idiotic nature. Punisher hits Stilt Man with a bazooka? Hilarious! Punisher blows up a bar with a bunch of Z-List baddies? Classic! The Hate-Monger saga? The ultimate Jigsaw story? Not so much. The fact is Punisher shouldn’t fight supervillains. I mean, I guess he could if Marvel would actually let him kill a true criminal, but he can’t. He can only deal with the bottom of the barrel. Stilt-Man is of course the obvious example and hey, Matt Fraction thinks so too because guess what this issue is about?

It’s Christmas day and Frank is sitting on top of a roof with a big silly gun spying on a bunch of idiots. “What kinda criminal would be dumb enough to come back to a place the Punisher already hit?” That’s right! This is the bar Frank hit way back in issue #4. These morons are arguing over who gets to be the new Stilt-Man. While Frank is watching his prey, the Rhino shows up with a Santa Hat. He’s here to feed the Vulture’s pigeons, but he’s also here to talk some sense into the Punisher.

This issue is drawn by Andy McDonald. I’m not too familiar with the man, but he has produced some wonderful work here. He hits all the right notes. Cartoony when it needs to be, but it also provides some realism to add to the humor. It’s sad that this is McDonald’s only issue on the book.

I’m a longtime Punisher fan, but even I’m having doubts about whether “the big guy with the skull on his chest” is really necessary in the regular Marvel universe. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to follow Remender to the new Dark Reign book. I don’t really see how that series couldn’t suffer from the problems here. Then again, Punisher Max hasn’t impressed me either since Ennis left. Still, one thing’s for certain. Punisher War Journal goes out with a comical bang and I couldn’t be happier.

Bruce Castle Presents: Skrulls! Zombies! Giant Lizards! Marvel Is A Scary Place!

Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (of 4)

Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (***)

Is anybody excited about this? Good old Marvel, they take a fun idea and beat us to death with it. Zombie covers! Skrull covers! Ape covers! Aren’t these awesome?! Arrggh! Anyway, Marvel Zombies 3 is the fourth mini-series (When will Marvel Zombies 8 come out?) about these super flesh-eaters. Kirkman and Phillips have left the building to make way for Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker. The new creators have an unenviable task. They have to not only deal with the aforementioned complaints of boredom, but this story also takes place in Earth-616 (the regular Marvel U for those who don’t know). Are you a fan of Jennifer Kale? Siege? The Conquistador? What about the Aquarian? Though I admire the respect for Steve Gerber, I doubt many kids (or anyone) will care about these characters. Part of, if not all, the fun of Marvel Zombies was seeing your favorite characters zombified, Captain America missing the top of his head for example. But because we’re in 616, you pretty much know nothing radical will occur. However, Lente and Walker make the best of what they have to work with. This issue is still filled with comedy, gore, and interesting twists and turns. The only problem is that you can get those same elements in other better comics. The series has lost its uniqueness. So, unless you’re a big fan of Machine Man, Jocasta, Morbius, or the creative team, you can probably skip this.

Punisher War Journal #24

Punisher War Journal #24 (***1/2)

What an odd cover. “Secret Invasion” is absent yet this issue is littered with Skrulls. All we see is this dark haunting Alex Maleev cover featuring Frank Castle in a cell. That is not what this issue is about at all. Entertainment is the name of the game here. After a bit of plot dealing with something that occurred earlier in this series, everything cuts loose. I’m talking Frank riding around in a vehicle decorated with Skrull skulls blowing everything green to kingdom come. This is old school sci-fi fun. Want more proof? How about a Super-Skrull that is part Kingpin part Hammerhead? Yep, that’s in here, the jerk even takes a chunk out of G. W. Bridge. Can’t I have one comic where someone doesn’t get bitten? If you’ve followed Punisher War Journal since the beginning, you’ll know that the series is strongest when it’s a tie-in. That’s true again here, but sadly it’s weaker than its predecessors. That’s because these issues contain so much action and with stuff blowing up, you want it to look pretty. Though Chaykin does a passable job, his art is still not my style at all. Still, if you’re in the mood for some fun that involves aliens and vigilantes instead of booze and broads pick this up!

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #44

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #44 (****1/2)

Does anyone over 8 read this comic? Well, I do have an excuse. This issue features the art of the talented Jonboy Meyers. I doubt the name sounds familiar, but here is some of his work. He recently did some back-ups in JLA as well. He rarely does interiors so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this. I don’t care if this book is meant for kids. It’s nice to have a wholesome break between my gore. This issue was refreshing and fun. The art is amazing! We get to see multiple lizards, the Serpent Society, and Curt Connors Godzilla-style! There’s some humor in here too and what kid comic is complete without some good lessons? This book has it all!

Bruce Castle Presents: Need A Lantern To Read Your War Journal?

Green Lantern #34 (****)

Awesomeness aside, do you really need seven issues to retell an origin? Apparently Geoff Johns does. That’s my main complaint about this arc and since this is the sixth part, I’m starting to feel the length (six months is a long time!). However, we still get a lot of sweet action sequences beautifully drawn by Ivan Reis. Some cool gimmicks, like Hal overcoming the yellow impurity and a Kilowog construct (How can you not love that?), are also provided. The Carol Ferris stuff feels a bit like a superhero soap opera, but I mean that in the best possible way. I hope Hal and Carol do get together soon, like Johns seems to be building to, but then what about Cowgirl?! Sinestro and Hal’s rapport is written brilliantly and there are a few humorous moments in here. An observation: It seems that throughout this series, this issue and I’m sure next included, the Guardians are almost villainous. It seems that almost every action they take has negative consequences. We can understand and are almost sympathetic with Sinestro during the war. The Guardians’ rules seem extreme, which is again demonstrated in this issue. Is it possible that either A) the Guardians will become villains B) things will change a bit, like new Guardians or new rules or C) the Guardians will die (Johns already killed one right?). Anyway, this arc is starting to wear out its welcome, but it’s still a well-written, well-drawn, and entertaining origin story.

Large Cover of Punisher War Journal #23 (Monkey Variant)

Punisher War Journal #23 (*)

This rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve already mentioned several times about my disdain towards Chaykin’s art. Poor art does detract from my enjoyment, but you can still have a great comic with bad art. Sadly, the writing is poor too. This was supposed to be the ultimate Jigsaw story, but it reads like just another Jigsaw story. There’s some decent action in here, but I dislike the art so it’s not much of a plus. The finale was surprisingly poor. The characters seem extremely out of character, and not in a good way. The epilogue felt stale and idiotic, and is almost a set-up for Remender’s solo run I guess? This book has been sour for almost a year now. I’m going to stay until Fraction leaves. I thought he was off after this issue, but apparently I still have two SI tie-ins to deal with. On a positive note, this series shined during its previous tie-in issues. So, Fraction could still depart with a well-written bang. I have hope.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #47 – A Thick Batch O’Marvel!

The Amazing Spider-Man #567 (***1/2)

I’m probably giving this book a higher rating than it deserves, since it did something I liked, but I’m pretty sure it was unintentional. You see, in order to explain away why it was that Peter’s friend Vin was mistaken for Spider-Man by the new Kraven, Peter (as Spidey) tells him, “To protect my identity, I’ve pegged some people as, well, decoys. Y’know, in case anybody gets too close to figuring out who I really am, I put them on the trail of, well… somebody else.” Now, this is a lie. Obviously, Peter Parker would never do something this foul or selfish. I mean, hell, this is the type of thing to get innocent people hurt or worse, horribly tortured and murdered by some super villain. I assume most fans hated this and called shenanigans. I would too, if I didn’t like how douchey it makes Peter. I like a little dark side with my web-slinging. Ah, but, this was probably one of those ill-conceived ideas… so, I guess maybe this really is just bad writing? Regardless, the rest of the issue was fun and resolved satisfactorily, and the art continues to impress.

Cable #6 (****)

This was definitely the best issue of Cable yet, and Cable was barely in the damn thing. Swierczynski tackles a bunch of continuity issues and manages to make it less of the mess that it is. For instance: do the X-Men kill now? Does Emma know about X-Force? If not, how can she not, she reads minds, y/y? Is Forge still pissed about what happened to his lab? Is sex the only true remedy to insomnia? And, my favorite, just how shark jumpingly smart is Beast? We spend the entire issue in Cyclops’ head, one of the most boring X-heads of all-time, and yet… by the end I was sad to get kicked out. If only Swierczynski could bring this type of depth to the titular character.

Halo: Uprising #3 (***1/2)

OMG, there’s an actual story here? Thought that needed to be pointed out. I like it. I don’t like Halo, but I like this. I like the Bendis/Maleev team. Anyone else reading this? Is the brother of the main character civilian dude, is he Master Chief?

King-Size Spider-Man #1 (*****)

What a surprisingly fun book! Unlike Spider-Man Family (SEE below), every story in this collection was neat and entertaining. I especially liked the very first page, the one with the warning—that I would show you but, SCANNER NO WORK!!! All the stories were exactly what out-of-continuity stories should be. Namely, fun. OH! And then there’s a preview of the new Mini Marvels Digest in the back and I liked it so much I pre-ordered it on Amazon. YAY!

Punisher: War Journal #22 (**)

More action packed—well, cooler action at least—than last ish, but it’s still shit. Like, it’s just bullshit. The content is crap. Reading this, after reading Ennis’ final issue (or any Ennis Punisher comic) where you see that the writer has a grasp on the character and his motivations, and a delicate handling that no other writer will ever match, and then you read the Fraction/Remender penned GW Bridge speech and it makes you want to vomit. Amazing Spider-Man Family style vomit. I’m losing words. Words are fail work describing hate this the Punisher. UGH.

Quick Hits:
• The Amazing Spider-Man Family #1 (**): Vomit. Which, of the many forgettable stories did I like… oh, the reprint of issue 300 was awesome!
• Astonishing X-Men #26 (**1/2): Still bad, but not terrible. In terms of quality, this is the exact opposite of his run on Thunderbolts.
• Avengers/Invaders #4 (****): This issue was tons of good with limited engagements of suck, the suckiest being the panel where Cap winks at Bucky. That was just creepy. Like child molester creepy. CHILLS! Down my spine!
• The Last Defenders #6 (***1/2): I don’t think this book ever reached its full potential, and I’m confident it is a story that could have been told in three less issues. Will I pick up a monthly Defenders book by Joe Casey based on the strength of this mini? Probably not.
• Fantastic Four #559 (***1/2): More of the same, but it definitely feels like a midpoint. So, that’s cool. Like everyone else, I found the two-page splash exciting… and that was about it.
The Invincible Iron Man #4 (****): Tony Stark does not beat Mr. Fantastic at chess. No. Wrong. Fail. Other than that, another solid read. I especially love Fraction’s take on Pepper Potts. She’s becoming a very strong female lead under his guidance, but Mr. Fraction, please, please, PLEASE do NOT make her a superhero. Please?
• The Punisher #60 (*****): The perfect end to a perfect run. Gosh, I hope Marvel puts out that last Punisher MAX hardcover (volume 5). I don’t want to start all over again with the stupid omnibuses. Don’t screw me, Marvel!
• Ultimate Origins #3 (**1/2): Know what? Whatever. I don’t even care anymore. This is a story that needed to be told three years ago. Whatever. Like, is Ultimatum just some Celestial story? Maybe that would be cool, if we didn’t already have an Eternals ongoing over in the 616. Whatever!

Bruce Castle Presents: Hulk vs. Punisher

Hulk #5 (****)

There isn’t a need to say much about this issue. Those who love it will still love it and those who hate it will still hate it. Like the book, it’s that simple. I’ve tried to look under the belly of this behemoth but there is no need. It’s just plain dumb fun with really pretty art and I’m one of the people that love it.

 

Punisher War Journal #22

Punisher War Journal #22 (***1/2)

This was the best issue out of this series that had Chaykin’s awful art. That’s not saying a whole lot but it’s something. Matt Fraction has written probably the most human Punisher. That’s not great, but I commend him for trying something new and making his Punisher unique like Ennis did. I liked this issue. There are twists and turns and the Wrecking Crew! I still have to complain about the art because it’s not my style and really detracts from my enjoyment. Another thing that bugs me is that this is supposed to be Jigsaw’s finest moment and he’s barely in it! He wasn’t in the last issue and he was only in two panels of this one. Anyway, this issue was much better than the last and I hope that continues.

Bruce Castle IS The Quickness

4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf someday soon
3 stars = Recommended and maybe even trade worthy
2 and a half stars = Recommended
2 stars= Not the best, not the worst, not recommended
1 and a half star = Terrible issue and vocalize your disgust at your next social event
1 star = Awful awful awful and you may want to consider dropping this title
0 stars = Next con you attend where the writer and/or artist are present you should throw this issue in their face

 

 

 

Punisher War Journal #21– I finally found out why this story has been bothering me so much. This has such a 90s feel to it which is a terrible awful thing. There is a reason why Ennis never messed with this stuff, why his first arc in the Max series ended with Punisher blowing Micro’s head off. I know it’s a bit unfair to compare this series to the Max run, especially when that run has been the best Punisher stuff ever, but unfortunately I just have to. But that’s what I finally realized while reading this issue, it has that awful 90s taste to it. It’s filled with scantily clad ninjas beating each other up with swords and blades. It’s got Jigsaw (actually Jigsaw wasn’t even in this issue which bothered me), who I know wasn’t created in the 90s, but he’s always had that kind of 90s feel to him in my mind. The issue also has Silver Sable, created in the 80s, but she still has that 90s feel as well. You’ve also got these three new ninja characters that seem like they could have been drawn by Liefeld himself. And speaking of, we also have Domino and G.W. Bridge in here that were created by Mr. 90s himself, Rob Liefeld. The 90s were a terrible decade for comics and Punisher himself was more unpopular than ever. Why in the hell would Fraction try to give a throwback to the worst time in the character’s history?! I suppose he maybe thought that they were interesting characters and concepts that were applied badly and he could do them better, I respect that and he does. But that doesn’t stop the fact that this story is the worst this book has ever been. There are still a few fun moments in here and look closely for a Colbert 08 poster. However, the horrible 90s feel and Chaykin art overshadow whatever good is in this comic. Not to mention the explanation of why Punisher hasn’t killed Jigsaw which seems unconvincing and even a bit trite. I hate not liking this comic.

1 and a half star

Walking Dead #50– It took two reads to finally appreciate this. When I first read it, I was majorly disappointed. I still am in a way, but then I realized a few things. I expected this to have the issue 50 feel to it, oversized with major events occurring inside. We don’t get that, but all the big stuff happened in 48. I also found this issue predictable at first, and in a way it is, but I finally realize what Kirkman was trying to say in this issue and he does do it well. Don’t expect an issue 50. Just expect another well written and well drawn Walking Dead adventure. One that continues the story of a father and son trapped in a post apocalyptic world with a terrible threat behind every corner. Oh and I love that variant and I’m glad I got my grubby hands on one.

4 stars

Astonishing X-Men #25– I read the first two trades of Astonishing X-Men but haven’t read the last two. I’m waiting for the hardcover. I was weary of reading this issue. It’s supposed to be a “jumping on point” for new readers, but they say that all the time and yet the story is still bogged down with continuity and the characters are reflecting on last arc’s events. There is none of that in this issue. About the only thing that tells you they’re in continuity is that M-Day still happened. Oh and the X-Men are in San Francisco now. That’s it, this has such a great first issue feel and is probably what all first issues should try to be. This has such an original and fresh feel to it. There are no glorious fight scenes with tough man dialogue, no last page reveal, just a lot of character study with a plot developing. I’m not a big fan of Bianchi’s art, but this is the best it’s ever looked. There are many genuinely hilarious moments, and though these are characters in the realm of fantasy, they seem real. This was a perfect first issue.

4 stars