Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/7/16
What a strange two weeks. Last week, my pile of comics was so overflowing with good options that I didn’t have time to read and review them all! This week, there’s barely a smattering of titles I read, though a lot of the comics do feature characters that star in this week’s Captain America: Civil War. And I promise to get caught up on Black Widow. I really want to read that comic.
As it stands, I was a little too busy watching Civil War to get caught up on a comics, so the review offerings are a bit weak this week. Still, we got new Spider-Man and Iron Man comics, as well as the Comic Book of the Week, Punisher #1, by Becky Cloonan — though if I’m being entirely honest, I wasn’t that big of a fan of the issue.
My ‘problems’ with the Punisher are well-documented on this blog. They’re no one’s fault but my own.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #12, Invincible Iron Man #9 and Punisher #1.
Amazing Spider-Man #12
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Looks like we’ve already got another new issue of Amazing Spider-Man already! Not that it has anything to do with the Spider-Man appearing in Captain America: Civil War, but bring it on.
Peter Parker hosts a gala fundraiser for the Ben Parker Foundation, but he’s thrown off his game when Tony Stark and Mary Jane Watson show up (she’s his new assistant). The gala is interrupted by the Ghost, and Spider-Man and Iron Man bicker about who is going to stop him. They eventually team up and kick his butt, though Iron Man gets all the credit. Also at the gala was Augustus Roman, who is later revealed to be the supervillain Regent, who is holding villains in his prison and collecting their powers for himself.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This issue had a lot more meat on its bones than the previous Zodiac issues. The relationship between Peter and Mary Jane has been so convoluted over the past few years that their interaction isn’t as strong as it could be. Does anybody even remember what their history is supposed to be right now? Still, it leads to some quality character development. Seeing Peter interact with Tony Stark and Harry Osborne is a little stronger. There are a lot of nice character scenes in this issue.
The team up between Iron Man and Spider-Man is pretty fun, and the Ghost makes a good enough villain. I didn’t read the Spider-Man tie-in to Secret Wars, so I don’t particularly care about Regent yet. Hopefully he’ll be worth our time. Slott spends a lot of time on character this issue, making it better than the previous issues, which focused on a boring villain story.
Invincible Iron Man #9
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
It seems slightly odd that this is the Iron Man comic we’re getting the week that Captain America: Civil War comes out in theaters. We’re right in the middle of a storyline that has nothing to do with Captain America or any sort of war, and Iron Man doesn’t actually appear in this issue. Tony Stark barely even appears.
Just kinda weird, s’all I’m sayin’.
Tony Stark has been missing for four weeks, ever since the last issue ended in an explosion. Everybody is worried that he’s dead, including his shareholders, his girlfriend, Doctor Doom and Rhodey, who is up and about, despite being in the same explosion. Rhodey tracks down Yukio again to try and find Tony, and when she says she doesn’t know anything, Rhodey has government officials crack down on her club. During the scuffle, a mysterious stranger rushes in and gets Yukio to safety.
Later, we see that same mysterious stranger meeting up with Rhodey. He’s Tony in disguise, and he’s apparently using his fake death to go undercover in the Chinese criminal underground.
Also, gifted high school student Riri Williams has invented her own suit of power armor. That’s her on the cover.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
The jump from last issue to this one is a little jarring. The last issue ended on a big explosion, with Tony, Rhodey and Spider-Man all caught in a giant explosion. This issue starts with Tony Stark feared dead…but then both Rhodey and Spider-Man are fine? There’s zero follow-up to the explosion, and that’s just kind of weird. How do you justify Tony believed dead but Rhodey is up and about doing fine? I’m fine if that’s the story Bendis wants to pursue, but it just doesn’t line up with where the last issue left off.
And it’s not like this issue makes up for it. We spend the majority of the issue on people who are all futzed that Tony Stark is missing and presumed dead, driving the point home on pretty much every page. We know he’s not dead, and sure enough, he shows up on the last page to reveal what’s really going on. That’s fine, that could make for an interesting story. But this issue was kind of wasted getting us to that point.
Though I suppose this Riri Williams person could be cool. Depends on what Bendis does with her. Inventing your own power armor in the Marvel Universe does not alone an interesting character make.
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Steve Dillon
I don’t think I can ever be objective about a Punisher comic ever again. I wanted to read this first issue because it’s been getting a lot of hype. I want to support writer Becky Cloonan, who I enjoy, because she’s one of the only female writers writing a male character in the Big Two. That’s great, and hopefully a sign of future improvements.
But it’s not her fault that we live in a world where Garth Ennis wrote the only Punisher comics that will ever matter.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but I consider Ennis’ Punisher MAX series to be one of the greatest comic book runs of all time. Some people out there make it a point to re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year. I re-read Ennis’ Punisher MAX. Few other comics, let alone Punisher comics, compare to that series.
Which is rather unfair to Cloonan, but I read this first issue anyway.
A criminal organization is trafficking in a new kind of drug, which turns ordinary people into psycho super soldiers. An old, tired mercenary named Olaf oversees the drug warehouse. He answers to a psycho in a business suit named Face, who collects faces, who in turn answers to the mysterious boss named Condor. The DEA is ready to hit the warehouse and bust up the operation, but the Punisher beats them to the punch and kills everybody inside.
Except for Olaf, who turns out to be one of Frank’s commanding officers from his days in the Marines. Olaf seems reluctant to be in the drug trade to begin with, so he gets the drop on Frank and makes his escape, but not before handing over an incriminating folder full of juicy intel on Condor.
In the end, the DEA is all in a kerfuffle that the Punisher stole their bust. And Condor asks Face to kill the Punisher.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
This was a fine comic, but it didn’t really have any meat on its bones. This is just the Punisher going up against a bunch of criminals in the drug trade. Sure, this Olaf guy is an old commanding officer, but we just saw that exact twist in the second season of Daredevil. And yeah, Face collects faces, but so far he seems like any other generically vile psycho villain. And one super drug is as ordinary as any other super drug. Cloonan’s writing is fine. She does a fair job giving these supporting characters some oomph. But she doesn’t make them anything special. And she doesn’t make the Punisher special.
Cloonan makes the bold decision to keep the Punisher completely silent for the entire issue. No dialogue, no internal monologue. Nothing. It was the wrong choice.
I totally understand the choice. It’s fine. Some reviewers have compared it to making the Punisher a ‘force of nature’. But the Steve Dillon art doest match up to that description. He’s just a dude firing a gun and killing people.
As I read this issue and saw Punisher in action, I kept hearing Ennis’ Punisher in my head. Ennis’ Punisher had a great inner monologue. He thought through his actions, talked about weapons and tactics. He was a brutal force, and you felt every decision he made. Cloonan’s Punisher is unnecessarily silent. He’s not a spook or specter, he’s not a wraith who needs to stay silent. He’s as violent as always, right in the heart of the action. Punisher killing nameless henchmen is always fun, but it’s also par for the course. Those scenes could have really used some extra depth.
Cloonan’s Punisher is off to an OK start. But so far she’s given us a generic conflict and an unnecessarily removed protagonist. I would like more to sink my teeth into.
Also, I hate his haircut.
The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop any given week, along with a few impulse buys I might try on a whim. So if there are any comics or series you’d like me to review each week, let me know in the comments!
Posted on May 7, 2016, in Comics, Marvel, Punisher, Reviews, Spider-Man and tagged Amazing Spider-Man, Frank Castle, Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man, Mary Jane Watson, Punisher. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.