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So, here you find a blog about life in general, but with a focus on family, games, books and creativity. Other "stuff" will creep in from timt to time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A little behind schedule: Reviews of Hawkeye #2, Captain Marvel #3 and Punisher #15

September is slipping away and my three comic book titles were released days and weeks ago.  However, I finally get around to some brief thoughts on each.  Once again, my local store, Beyond Comics, came through with my subscriptions.  Unfortunately, September is proving to be a heck of a busy month, so it's either short reviews or no reviews.

Hawkeye #2

Two Hawkeyes are Better than One

In this issue, we get not only Clint Barton doing the things he does away from the Avengers, but we also get "Young Avenger" Kate Bishop.  Clint has been looking into many things that he thinks that he needs to take care of, and he is lucky to get Kate to join in.  First off looks like "Something Big" going down at a circus performance attended by every major crime figure in Mavel's version of New York.  Writer Matt Fraction does a great job of using Clint's shady past and Kate's high society background to lay the foundation for how things get moving.  Once the performance starts in, as well as the heist, things really get cooking.  Of course, Clint brashly goes in over his head, and it is a good thing he brought backup.  Not that he is ever a slouch in any of the action sequences.  Once again the issue demonstrates why Hawkeye is the best there is.  There just happen to be two of them.  The end of the book has Clint with more angry enemies than ever, and reveals that he has a serious plan to make a difference, no matter the costs.  The art continues to be outstanding, and the book is beyond reproach.  It is a perfect comic book experience, and if you are not reading it, go out and buy it!

Captain Marvel #3

The ride is fine so far, but where are we going?

There are two stories in this book.  One is the main Captain Marvel story, and the second is a backup that relates somehow, as its focus is Carol Danver's childhood idol, but how the stories will intersect is still unclear.  The "A plot" continues to follow Captain Marvel as she tries to sort out where and when she is, and why alien technology seems to have gotten involved in a lost corner of the war in the Pacific during the Second World War.  The writing is solid.  The art is growing on me.  The plot is developing slowly.  Generally, I don't mind a slow burn plot, but so far I am neither gripped by the situation or the characters.  It may not be a fair comparison, but looking at last year's relaunch of The Punisher, which also featured a slow burn story (one that is just peaking now, in issues 14-16), there is a real contrast.  That book gripped me from the first.  I still have my attention on the story here for Captain Marvel, but it feels like I could easily shake off the grasp of the story, when instead I want to be locked in like I'm in an iron vise.  The art is growing on me, but I am not convinced of its brilliance.  It is different, but still remains merely adequate for me in the story being told.  All in all, the main story delivers, but only marginally for me.  I am interested in where this is going, but it feels like if I missed it, it would be no big deal.  This is not where we should be at this point.  DeConnick and Wacker need to get on the stick here and start hitting out of the park like Dare Devil and Punisher have over the last year, and the way the Hawkeye is killing it right now.  They are more than capable of doing so.  The "B plot" is quite short.  The background is at the critical juncture in the women's Mercury astronaut program, the part where the men tell the women they aren't getting to go into space.  Not a banner moment in American history, gender relations, or the historical advancement of women.  The problem is, for most of the panels, I don't really care.  I am not reading the book for this particular lecture on how carppy American culture was to women in the 50s and 60s.  The packaging is clumsy and ham handed.    I'm here for a Captain Marvel story.  If I get a lecture in feminist studies on the side, so much the better, but it can't be the main event, because that is not what I paid for.  Only in the last few panels, as Danver's childhood hero from the Mercury 13 is trying to make her own deal to get into space is there any inkling of interest.  Again, the set up is adequate, but I am expecting so much more than adequate for my $3.  The art is solid, and an interesting contrast from the main book.  I will be back for issue #4, but without more, I may not last until issue #6.

Punisher #15

And I thought it couldn't get any darker, or better!  But it is!

Last month began the final end game in the Punisher's plan to take down the Exchange and Rachel Cole-Alves' plan to complete her vengeance on every member of that organization.  The problem is, as Feste the fool observes in Twelfth Night, "And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges."

As it turns out, Sergeant Cole-Alves is not the only seeker of vengeance.  The tables get turned on her and the Punisher and it starts to get really bloody.  Further, despite every piece of advice and order from Frank Castle to Rachel on being patient, on not rushing her punishment of all those connected with the cause of her tragedy, she is too tempted to finish it, once and for all, herself.  The result is pure tragedy taken to a higher level.  Vengeance is begetting vengeance and begetting even more. 
This is a great book, even better than issue #14 which was a tour de force.  Even in the Marvel Universe, vengeance is not free, and only one man alive has converted his pain, and his experience in getting revenge into a cause and a mission that carries on, and that is The Punisher.  Everyone else seems to be ready to follow the classic arc of revenge, and that pretty much ends up with everyone tragically dead (e.g. Hamlet).  We have one more issue to go, and five issues of coda in the War Zone series.  I am thinking it is going to be a hell of a ride.

With us for this issue and the next is the superior art of Marco Checcetto.  Once again, he captures the characters, the places and the mood of every scene deftly.  The entire art team on the book supports and enhances the story in every way.  I will be sad to see the last of that in issue #16.  However, don't miss issue #15!  It would be tragic if you did.

For the second to last time on this run of Punisher, I give you other's voices on this issue:

IGN (8.5/10) "The beauty of this issue is that Rucka’s run has been so deliberate in its pacing and usage of violence, that the sudden chaos of this installment gives it more weight to the reader. If you read issue after issue of guns blazing, it loses its impact. Not so here, and the overall arc of Rucka’s Punisher is the better for it."

I Got Issues (Recoomended) "I recently discovered that this series is ending soon (like next issue) and while this makes me sad, I want to focus on the positive…that this issue, hell this whole series has been amazing since issue #1."

Comic Vine (10/10) "As I mentioned previously, this issue was fantastic because of the way that it connected three characters through very similar experiences. It is interesting to see that although the characters are different, their motivations are different, they act out very similarly when they lose someone or something very close to them. It's a very powerful issue and feels really dense when you read it. It's paired with some pretty incredible art, too, so if you're a Punisher fan you really can't go wrong. I don't recommend reading this issue without at least checking out the previous one as I feel they really go hand in hand."

Newsarama (9/10) "Frank Castle has made murder into a mission, but it's Marco Checchetto that turns it into art. This comic will hit you like a hurricane, as Frank and his partner [Rachel] take on a wild gunman inside Wall Street — not to mention the entire NYPD."

The Weekly Crisis (Verdict-Buy It) "Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto's Punisher has been one of the best books coming out of the Marvel offices this past year.  Frank Castle's actions and his world have been depicted through a serious lens that does not ignore the consequences of his deeds, and the story has been better for it.  It will be a sad day when Rucka's run on the character ends with the Punisher: War Zone miniseries - a day made all the sadder by Checchetto's absence."

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