Howdy Inter-Webbers. I’m Matt Cohen, and I dig consistency (hah!).
With that in mind, “Comics & Comics” has taken a bit of an “op-ed” feel to it this summer, and though I have been enjoying writing those pieces (as I hope you enjoy reading then), I dont want to neglect what is one of the focuses of this column - To tell you which comics to spend your hard-earned (or ill-gotten… I don’t know how you roll) funny-bucks on.
And hence, the weekly standout guide is back… And what a week to stand out in! So strap on your reading moccasins and don your funny book fez’s (cause I know that’s how the kids read comics these days) and prepare for the week that is/was and forever will be (Spooky, I know)…
Punisher Max #50: Goodbye Garth… It was an amazing run while is lasted. With this week’s release of Punisher Max # 50, we also mark the exit of the series writer (and one of the better comic book writers of the last few decades), Garth Ennis. How can one issue sum up years of fantastic writing and the best characterization of Frank Castle ever, in my opinion? With the same style, biting wit, and mind-numbingly awesome action as the rest of his seminal work. Anyone who has read Preacher knows Garth can bring the gloom and doom, but what I really think will be the lasting testament of his run on Punisher is Garth’s ability to ground and humanize Frank, who is basically a single-minded killing machine. We know Frank. We understand him. We don’t necessarily sympathize or root for him, but he is a real person - something which strikes pretty different when compared to the classic Punisher War Journal books and the concept of Frank as death incarnate. This issue goes further into Frank’s history than we’ve been in a while, and is a fitting and appropriate finish to one of the better runs in comic book history. I may be dropping this book next month, but I will always remember the good times. (Tear, tear)
Astonishing X-Men V.3 #26: With the exit of Joss Whedon as writer, many fans wondered if their favorite X-series would drop off quality wise, with the change to new helmer Warren Ellis. After reading the first issue in the arc, I can say that though it isn’t quite the book it was when Whedon was writing, Astonishing X-Men is still a great read, and probably the best X-book around today. This arc finds the team knee deep in a new conflict, as Xavier’s kids are facing off against an unknown foe, someone who is genetically engineering mutant/mutant hunters. Scott and team head out to Chaparanga, the spaceship graveyard, to see if they can’t locate the source of all their current problems. What they find there will take the combined forces of all the X-Men (including re-recruit and current queen of Wakanda, Storm) to defeat. Nothing groundbreaking, but a solid enough introduction to Ellis’s arc, and one that doesn’t make the reader suffer from Whedon-less drop off (too badly). Not quite the magic Whedon was weaving but still a very readable, entertaining book and one that will continue to stand out as the best X-Comic currently offered.
Final Crisis Revelations #1: Wow. I have no idea where this mini came from, or why we even need to it, but #1 is one of the more dark, adult, and frankly shocking comics I have read from any of the mainstream companies in a long time, and one of the better ones. Starting with an attempted rape by everyone’s least favorite villain, Dr. Light, Crisis Revelations takes the DC event to the more primal of levels. How does the embodiment of death deal with the Libra, the new baddie on the team? Crispus Allen, the current human shell for the Spectre, is faced with that very question. With a supporting B-line starring the new Question, Renee Montoya, and with some truly disturbing imagery and content, this is now the mini I most look forward to continuing. I’m not sure if this lies in current continuity or not, but if it does then all I can say is Dr. Light has definitely met a deserving reward for his actions as of late. This is as hardcore as a main label DC book will get, and I for one am definitely along for the ride. (One nitpick/spoiler alert…. avert your eyes. Ahem, NO WAY Dr. Light ever gets Starfire, Raven, AND Donna Troy incapacitated and trembling in fear. Just won’t happen. But a great plot device none the less.)
Batman #679: Part four of RIP is a bit confusing, but still a very fun and pretty insane book. I’m gonna be honest and admit it’s a bit tough to follow, but I find myself enjoying the individual moments more then the whole, which in this case isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With stunning artwork from Tony Daniel, Morrison’s Bat run has not hit a lull yet - It continues to be one of the stronger super series Also, how could you not buy a book that features Bat-Mite? It’s Bat-Mite!!! He’s tiny!!! C’mon!!! I am intrigued by the concept of a Batman with no trace of Bruce Wayne, and Morrison delivers a character that is both psychologically menacing and yet manages to keep true to the man in the cowl we all know and love. I don’t know if Bruce Wayne is really losing his mind, but I’ll take it if it means we get more books like this - more crazy, violent, dark as hell Batman books. Really great arc, and the finale promises to not disappoint either. Check-check-check it out.
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #2: Or, “Albinos Unleashed”. Mignola and guest artist Richard Corben are back with the second part of the newest Hellboy mini, and things are getting pretty damn crazy. Set in the backwoods of American Appalachia, this series finds big red on the hunt for the mythical Melungeon Witches (For history buffs, Mulungeon is a real sub “race” of Appalachians, with such famous Melungeons as Elvis Presely and Ava Garner) , with some help from a local who may have more involvement in the deaths occuring than first let on. I really like the vibe of this book, and though it’s darker fare, it’s told in a very light hearted way. I enjoy these random Hellboy tales almost as much as I enjoy it when we get a book in continuity, and Richard Corben’s art is a great compliment to the very folk-taley story that he and Migonla have hatched for everybody’s favorite beer drinker from hell. I would definitely recommend this to any fan of Hellboy - though if you are a HB fan, you probably already A) Own the issue and B) Love it.
Everybody’s Dead # 5: The final issue of Brian Lynch and penciler Dave Crossland’s Frat House Zombie epic has arrived and I can happily say that it kicks all kinds of reanimated ass. This has been one of my favorite minis from any company in a long time, and the finale brings just as many belly laughs and badass zombie busting moments as the four issues that proceeded it. We all know Brian Lynch can bring the funny, but what he also manages to do this time around is create a character that I personally will add to my geek lexicon of heroes; Of course, I refer to Westerberg. Imagine a pot smoking Egon mixed with a cynical college student and you’ve got my favorite character in the series, and one I will definitely miss not reading the ongoing exploits of (IDW… Ongoing?). This series really does feel like a film (and if you know the book’s history you may understand why) and this last issue is that sort of cinematic “grand finale” that we see time and time again in theaters, taking the book out on a rock and roll high and leaving the reader wanting a lot more. And I do want a lot more. If there is any justice in the world, this will not be the last time we get to see the boys of Phi Beta Eta taking names and getting their collective “hang on”. If you missed the first issues, definitely pick up the trade when it is released. One of the more unique and memorable series I have read in a long while. Also - gun bong. Oscar… Worthy (or, at the very least, Eisner).
Wasn’t that fun? Well, forget you… I enjoyed myself. Check back next week for a review of the new comedy blockbuster Tropic Thunder starring Derrick Zoolander, Jables, and Tony Stark (odd casting choices). Be forewarned, though… It might get messy. MESSY GOOD! So keep it here, kids, and while you are around, check out the other great Quick Stop brand content that the site has to offer. And, as always,
“Keep em’ bagged and boarded”
-Matt Cohen is currently watching 12 hours of olympic coverage a day. His response… “I could do that”
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