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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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reviews: Goodbye to Punisher (Issue #16) and hello to Captain Marvel (Issue #4)

I have been unconsciously and consciously putting off these reviews.  It will be my last regular review of The Punisher, as the run ends here with #16.  The silver lining is that good writing and good comics continue, even when terrific series have to come to an end.  Once more, I got my books at my great local place, Beyond Comics.  So, once more unto the breach . . .

Captain Marvel #4
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about

In my last few reviews of Kelly Sue DeConnick's I have been damning the book with faint praise.  I always liked it, but wanted it to be better.

This last issue turned a corner for me.  I found it witty, exciting, and I feel like the investment in reading was paying off.  We don't yet know all of what is going on, but we're starting to get a direction to the plot which feels right. 

This issue felt like things snapped into focus, that the story which seemed to be zigging and zagging was suddenly on course. 

I finished the pages, and I said to myself "yes, this is the Captain Marvel I knew she was going to write."

So, this issue wraps up Carol Danver's first leg of her time travel saga, but proves that it is going to be an interesting and exciting multi-stage journey.  It starts with a big action piece with is handled just perfectly, with the writing and art balancing out to really deliver.  Then we get the resoultion of the action on the mysterious island off the coast of Peru during World War II and pieces start to fall into place as to why Captain Marvel is being trasported through time and space, just in time for her to transfer to the late 50s/early 60's era of the Mercury 13 (at least the Marvel version of it) and find herself face to face with her girlhood idol, Helen Cobb, in her prime.

I still don't know all of what is going on, but I am finally fully happy to be along for the ride.  Even Dexter Soy's art is growing on me, although it is still not my favorite.  I really look forward to the next issue, and I think that we have passed the "make or break" period for the book, at least for me, and with issue #4, the series is "made."

Check it out.

Punisher #16

Fantastic and tragic end to the series

I really hate to say goodbye to this book.  It's over, and though there is a five issue mini that will be a kind of coda, there will be no going back.  Punisher is going to another author and into a team book, Thunderbolts, in the new Marvel reorganization of titles.  I wish the character well, but somehow, I can't see the next book doing what this book did.

Issue 16 ends a patient, exciting, suspense filled and character driven story arc that took up all 16 issues.  I loved every issue, and this issue is a fitting goodbye to the regular series.  The Punisher and his mission remain, but the tragic toll of violence and revenge tally up in the book.  It is great storytelling, and involves all the terrific characters drawn or drawn into Rucka's story.

The art is also outstanding.  Because of undiscolsed family issues, Marco Checchetto is unable to continue with War Zone, but he gives us an issue to remember with his moody, beautiful art in this book.

I am talking around the details, as I am trying to leave the review spoiler free.  This arc was about not only taking on "The Exchange" but also about what it would cost to do so, especially for Rachel Cole Alves, whose tragedy began in issue 1, and carries through the whole series to come to a conclusion in this final issue.

I loved every page, just as I loved every page of the series as a whole.

If you don't buy and read this, there's no talking to you.

Check it out.

Oh, and one last and final tradition to observe, here's what other's thought:

Weekly Comic Book Review (A) "Brilliant art, brilliant character work, and sophisticated storytelling by all involved.  This is an absolutely top tier comic and I’m more than a little pissed that it’s been canceled…"

IGN (9.3 "Amazing") "Fittingly, this concluding issue doesn’t go out in a hail of gunfire, but a series of well-timed thematic and emotional payoffs that bring this entire 16-issue arc full circle."

Comic Book Resources (4.5/5 stars) "Rucka makes "The Punisher" #16 a story that celebrates the history of this series. The more you know going in, the more you gain, but prior knowledge need not preclude you from reading. This issue certainly would deserve a perfect score when put in the context of the entire run, but with this issue, a little more background is needed to provide testimony to what Rucka has accomplished with the transformation of Frank Castle. That's an interesting spin for the final issue of a series. So many final issues struggle to cover all of the dangling subplots and many of those issues just cut bait and run. Not 'The Punisher.' "

Between the Panels  (postive review) "Between the stellar art team and the writing of one of my favorite authors, I’m very sorry to see The Punisher go. A great procedural, a great redemption story, and an all-around fantastic comic."

Read Comic Books (story 10/10, Art 10/10, Overall 10/10)  "And so ends a masterpiece. Writer Greg Rucka and Merco Checchetto delivered their coup de grace in The Punisher #16. Normally when I review comics, I read and then begin writing as soon as I put it down. When I finished The Punisher this week, I sat dumbfounded and speechless on my couch."

Comic Book Bin (10/10) "I hate that Rucka is about to wrap up his stint on The Punisher by pitting Frank against the rest of the Marvel U in the upcoming, and re-launched, Punisher War Zone #1. I would rather (and could have) read 100 issues of The Punisher written in this vein by Greg Rucka instead. Rucka's The Punisher will be missed, but I'm happy that we got it for at least 16 issues."

OGR (5/5 stars) "Punisher ends on a powerful note and a compelling setup for the upcoming Punisher: War Zone limited series. Rucka succeeded at creating an interesting little world for the Punisher in the Marvel Universe, complete with three-dimensional characters who meshed perfectly as a cast. Far as I'm concerned, this series should now be considered essential reading for the Punisher."

Multiversity Comics (9.5/10 – Buy. Among the best Punisher stories ever told) "Greg Rucka and a bevy of talented artists have crafted a new side to the Punisher that feels like it was somewhere in there all along, just waiting to get out. They also navigated Rachel Alves-Cole through a sneak-attack of truly great character development over just 16 issues. It’s stunning to think of the transformation that took place."

Weekly Crisis (Verdict-Must Read) "Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto's work with Punisher has been some of the best stuff to come out this past year, and Punisher #16 is no exception.  The issue, like the series as a whole, is built on its terrific character work.  Whether it's Frank himself or the people who have found themselves caught in his orbit, this book is all about who these people are and why they do what they do.  That's what's made it special, and that's what makes this issue a must read."