4.16.2009

4.15.09 Reviews

Punisher #4 (Marvel): Thanks to Sea Donkey (that’s “El Burro Del Mar” for our friends in Latin America), I somehow missed issue #3 of this title, but eventually tracked it down thanks to an alternate provider. Jerome Opena’s gritty, world-weary style is right at home for a street level Punisher book. Whether it’s the depiction of the red light district brothel in Chinatown, the seriousness evident in Henry’s face as he utters the words “human chop shop,” or even the more mundane things like the stubble on Frank’s chin, the dinge on the white parts of his uniform, or a throwaway shot of him looking through the refrigerator, this is probably his best work yet in terms of being suited to the tone of the writing. At times, it felt like panels from Travis Charest, with the fine line detail that makes you want to pull the book right up to your face and examine it that much closer. Rick Remender’s writing is also firing on all cylinders. It starts with his trademark insertion of quotes. In Fear Agent, it was the recurring Samuel Clemens selections; here in Punisher we get Nietzsche being dropped casually. We have the flair of something like Matt Fraction’s Iron Fist with fearless bits about the “Shaolin Scientist Squad!” We get small lines with big payoff like “Bravo team’s down.” I love his portrayal of The Hood as a mentally unhinged and ruthless crime lord, who has supplanted The Kingpin in New York. He’s becoming less a throwaway character and more a worthy adversary for Frank Castle. The script is smart on a lot of levels, from the mysterious person playing chess with The Hood (shocking reveal!), to the supposed quick retribution against Henry and Frank that becomes a cat and mouse game, with participants walking into each other’s traps. I’m also really enjoying Henry as a researcher and profiler; there’s a great scene where you can really see the two earn eachother’s respect by admitting their mistakes. Remender also delivers the humor. “You. Grizzly. What’s your thing? You tell kids not to start forest fires? Chase Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins?” Overall, Remender seems to be nestling Frank back into the Marvel U nicely and reminding us that his greatest weapon is not his arsenal of firearms, training, or skill with a blade, but his mind. Grade A-.

Uncanny X-Men #508 (Marvel): Oh Greg Land, do chics naturally pose symmetrically with their asses touching like that? And that fight scene in the graveyard has some confusing panel transitions – the kind where I go back and re-read them three times and I’m still not positive I have the sequencing and character movements down. On the writing end, there’s still a part of me that feels like Fraction is suffering under the weight of his own unwieldy plot threads as characters sporadically come and go as they please, but then there are moments when it also feels like he’s starting to reign them in and they’re coalescing nicely. I do like Fraction's subtle expansion of the x-universe, with things like Logan’s Japanese graveyard and the introduction of a character that… well, I won’t spoil it. The title still boasts some clever turns, such as “Xi’an Coy-Manh – Karma. Psychic possession. Wasn’t crazy for the wrap-up of Battlestar,” and I really enjoyed the recruitment of Northstar and Aurora. I’m still on the fence with this title, but for now it’s earned another monthly reprieve. Grade B.

I also picked up;

100% (DC/Vertigo): The hardcover treatment for Paul Pope’s library continues!

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