I hate to break it to anybody who had this week in the “Chris Finally Stops Doing Weekly Reviews” pool, but I’m back for another round.
So take that, generic racist anti-tax protester whose resemblance to any member of any real-life movement living or dead is purely coincidental!
Yes, it’s another round of the Internet’s Laziest Comics Reviews, but before we get around to my thoughts on this week’s funnybooks, I’m going to plug this one one last time:
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but this week saw the release of Resurrection #8, in which my partner in the Action Age Chad BowerS and I make our professional comics debut in a backup story with art by seasoned veteran Rusty Shackles. As reviewing my own work would be unquestionably the most shameless thing I have ever done, I won’t actually do that, but I will say that Marc Guggenheim and Justin Greenwood’s main story has Bill Clinton punching aliens. That is not a joke. It is literally what is in this comic book. In any case, I hope you pick it up and enjoy it, and if your local shop’s sold out, they should be able to reorder it using the Diamond code NOV090888.
And hey, if you do get it, send me a picture! I’ve already gotten quite a few on the Twitter, and sometime next week, I’m going to pick someone who sent me a picture of them with a copy and send them something nice. Well, something “nice.” You know how I am.
Now then, let’s get on with the reviews!
Joe the Barbarian #2: This comic, you guys. This comic. Wow.
I think the record will show that I’m pretty unapologetic about being in the tank for Grant Morrison–hey, you write JLA #4 and Batman: R.I.P. and I’ll be in the tank for you, too–but this comic here is like nothing I’ve seen from him, and it’s fantastic. It’s Morrison doing a big, accessible epic fantasy that may or may not be a hallucination, with just beautiful art by Sean Murphy.
There’s so much I love about it that I have a hard time putting it into words–which, given how mouthy I am about these funnybooks, is saying something–but I think it really comes down to just how swept up I am in it. I’ve been flipping back through this issue being excited about the fact that Joe actually has the phaser belt over his shoulder because maybe that means it’s actually happening, and that’s exactly the feeling that I want to get from comics. It’s the same kind of sense that I get from stuff like The Unwritten where there’s such a well-done hook that I cannot wait to see the next bit. And really, that’s what Morrison’s made his career in super-hero books doing.
The only thing bad about it is that it makes diabetes seem like the most awesome thing ever, because you get to go on adventures with giant legos and talking mice and Captain Picard will give you his phaser. And I’m pretty sure that’s somethign Wilford Brimley would’ve mentioned.
Phonogram 2 #7: Matt Fraction has already eulogized the series in glowing terms that I couldn’t even come close to, so I’ll just say this: At first blush, it seems like an odd choice to end a series that’s entirely about music with an issue that’s largely silent–well, “silent” in comic book terms, anyway–but by opening it with a page that addresses the reader directly and–in dialogue between characters–tells them to think of a song that matters to you, Kieron Gillen has provided all the soundtrack that his comic needs. You can’t read this comic without thinking of a song that means something to you, and that’s the most brilliant way Gillen could’ve ended this. Not with the music that matters to him, but the music that matters to us. It’s engaging the reader to be part of the story in a way that puts the core theme of the entire series in their hands, and that’s something a lot of writers wouldn’t have the trust in their audience to do.
Plus, the whole thing gives Jamie McKelvie a chance to shine, and in return, he turns in some of the most dynamic art I’ve ever seen from him, throwing together a great sense of motion and storytelling and capping it off with one of my all-time favorite tricks, framing the panels inside words. I love that stuff, and it looks absolutely fantastic here.
So yeah: I can’t really say that this is the best “silent” story ever as it does not technically contain Snake Eyes, but it’s probably in the top two.
Punisher #14: At this point, I’m pretty sure that my feelings on “Franken-Castle” have been well and truly entered into the public record, but guys, seriously: It just keeps getting better.
In this issue, that’s largely thanks to Rick Remender’s origin story for Hellsgaard, both in the way that he sets his obsession with killing all monsters up to parallel Frank’s with killing all mobsters, and in the way that this garners absolutely no sympathy whatsoever from Frank. It’s an idea that Garth Ennis played with in the subplot of Welcome Back Frank, that there’s a constant, ice-cold self-loathing in the Punisher, a recognition that he’s damned himself by becoming what he is, but saw no other choice in his life that really underscores the tragedy of the character. It’s a great aspect to him that isn’t brought up that often, but with Remender holding a mirror up to it at the same time that he’s turned Frank Castle in to the literal monster that he became inside when his family died is incredible. It bespeaks an understanding of the character that, once a writer has, can be applied to any story, no matter how outlandish the trappings are. The only negative thing I can say about it is that it’s not very subtle (Henry makes the explicit comparison in the text), but when you’re talking about “Franken-Castle,” I think it’s safe to say that subtlety’s gone out the window, and that’s just fine.
The other great thing about this issue? Dan Brereton. I think I may have mentioned this on Ajax when we talked to Remender, but while I’ve never read much of Brereton’s creator-owned stuff, I’m always utterly thrilled to see him on Marvel books like Iron Fist, and in this one, he just kills it. And that’s saying something: He’s following up (and as art chores are split here, teaming with) Tony Moore, who has been doing a bang-up job with the arc thus far, but his take on Gene Colan’s classic Dracula is just a thing of beauty. It’s a perfect fit for the story, and then two pages later he’s drawing the Tokyo Tower being dwarfed by Ultraman monsters, and that’s a perfect fit too. It seems like it would be insanely difficult to pull off, but he does it, and it’s great.
In short, for a storyline that’s getting so much flak from “fans” about not respecting the character, or not getting what makes Frank Castle work (one of whom gets a lengthy letter and a lengthy, thoughtful response from Remender in this issue), this issue gets the Punisher better than most comics, and does it in a smarter, sharper, prettier, and way more fun way than it ever had to.
And that’s the week! So will I keep the streak alive or will the Week In Ink finally be retired? Find out next Thursday night, and until then, feel free to use the comments section below to talk about how awesome Giant Gorilla Man was in this week’s Avengers vs. Atlas, debate the fun love pentagon of Amazing Spider-Man, or just totally suck up and tell me how great “Wolf” was. Your choice, but I’d totally go with Option 3.