Comic Book Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Marvel relaunched The Punisher with a new #1 this week with the ‘World War Frank’ arc, with previous series writer Matt Rosenberg continuing on writing duties, art from Szymon Kudranski, colours by Antonio Fabela and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Greg Smallwood (Marvel Comics)

Shady dealings have been going on between Hydra and Roxxon, and their respective leaders Baron Zemo and Dario Agger. Partnering with The Mandarin, they have been convincing or strong-arming UN members to recognise Bagalia as a sovereign nation. Presumably as a cover for further shady dealings. But a wrench in their plans has turned up in the form of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. See Frank is after bigger game than his usual gangland targets on the streets of New York, and he is set to go to war with Hydra and a whole nation.

Here Castle is as driven as ever, choosing his words carefully and only ever as a terrifying bogeyman to create maximum intimidation for his targets. While he is going after people who usually go up against Captain America or the Avengers, it’s a nice change of pace for The Punisher, And it is good to see his tactics and planning come into play to deal with that scale. Something that really bothered me in Secret Empire was the characterisation of Castle, doing things and making decisions that seemed wildly out of character and fairly stupid, so this is a welcome return to form. While the set up page indicates that this series and Rosenberg’s work on the character before takes its motivation out of the ashes of that event, it seems that is all that it is. The story here seems to be grand in scope and very entertaining, with a strong cast that I’m looking forward to seeing in action.

Art by Kudranski, Fabela and Petit (Marvel Comics)

The art from Kudranski is kinetic and dark, evoking The Punisher MAX series. There are a few moments where faces are a little inconsistent., and there are some signs or text in the art that looks like they was added as an afterthought later. But largely the issue is strong, with the explosive action given vibrant life by the colours from Fabela. The highlight however has to be the multi panelled sequence outside the lift in the Roxxon base, which was superb.

The Punisher #1 is a good start to a story with a lot of potential for fun, huge explosive action. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 7  out of 10

Comic Review – The Immortal Hulk #2 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“All that a man hath will he give for his life.” – Job 2:4 (also the opening quote to this issue)

The Hulk has never been a hero I’ve properly engaged with. Too often it seems that his stories are more about how invincible he is and watching him beat people up rather than anything of substance. I figured this was a good time to try to engage with big green a little and see what more he had to offer, especially after reading the premise for the new ‘Immortal Hulk’ series. It turns out that originally it wasn’t anger that set the Hulk off, it was night time. Bringing this idea is bought back for the modern Hulk with an interesting twist – the Hulk comes back at night. Every night, even if Banner is dead (explaining how he recovered from a vibranium arrow to the face). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Penciler – Joe Bennett
  • Inker – Ruy Jose
  • Colour Artist – Paul Mounts
  • Letterers – VC’s Cory Petit and Travis Lanham

The tone of this comic isn’t what I would have expected from a Hulk storyline. We’re presented with an internal horror tale, of a man trying to survive the beast that will come out at night, leave a trail of destruction, leave him with nothing only to start again the next evening. Banner is a man running from the inevitable desperately trying to do some kind of good with the beast inside him, while trying to keep under the radar.

There’s a lot of internal monologue during the issue while we’re dealing with Banner and not big green. I really enjoyed this as it built the atmosphere, seeing his internal battle and getting to know the guy a lot better. Banner comes off as very human and as a man very much trying to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. When the Hulk does rear his head he comes off as monstrous and scary more than anything else and this is something I very much enjoy.

Art by Bennett, Jose and Mounts

By his very design the Hulk is meant to be monstrous though, however this side of him seems to be even more emphasized in the way Bennett, Jose and Mounts have done the art. His stance is consistently unnatural and beast like and his piercing eyes seem to leap out of the page (very good work by Mounts for that!). Hell, the villain of the issue spends much more time terrified of the Hulk than the Hulk is of it. Additionally with such a monologue-heavy issue, a high calibre of lettering was required. Petit and Lanham team up well to weave the reader’s eye through the pages and keep them engaged.

Final Verdict

I’m glad to have picked this story up, I’m a fan of horror and it’s a great way to get to know a character I’m a little unfamiliar with still. The villain of the issue feels like a bit of a throw away, and the way the antagonist is shaping up could either result in a very interesting reflection of the Hulk, or feel a bit like an unnecessary inclusion for the sake of it. That’s the thing though, the real antagonistic force in all this is Banner’s lack of control over his life and struggle to cope with the Hulk, coming out every night like clockwork and even death cannot stop it.

Final Score – 8.25 Simple Pleasures out of 10

Comic Review: The Defenders #4 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week will be a bit of a short review (its late!), but I picked up The Defenders #4 from Marvel Comics, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez, with colours from Justin Ponsor and letters from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Marquez & Ponsor

This iteration of The Defenders stars Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Daredevil (hey, isn’t there a TV show coming soon with this exact team?), as they face off against a back-from-the-dead Diamondback, who is not only pushing a new deadly drug onto the streets, but also seems to have equally deadly superpowers of his own. He has already beaten Cage, and at the close of issue #3 it looked like he had put Iron First down permanently. But now that members of this newly formed Defenders team have started to work together a little more, Diamondback may have bitten off a little more than he can chew with these heroes.

It is interesting to see how much The Defenders has been informed by the Netflix shows, or at least what has been well regarded about them. Most of the characters are consistent between the comic and TV show versions (Diamondback not so much). However, Danny Rand is much more in line with the comic book version of the character, and the series is better for it. But there does seem to be a leaning on recognizable elements, and the next threat the team will face looks to be no different. However, with issue #4 wrapping up the initial conflict with Diamondback, this has been a very kinetic, simple and fun story.

Art by Marquez, Ponsor & Petit

However, as with Civil War II last year, the real headline for this book is David Marquez’s art. Everything in these 4 issues has been consistently great, with superb character work and even stronger action. The start of the issue is quick but subdued, with some very good shadow effects in the club and facial work from both the couple partaking in the Diamond drug, and the journalists at The Bugle. But the 3 pages with  Iron Fist unleashing his full power on Diamondback was gorgeous work from Marquez, and Ponsor’s use of dazzling yellow fire and red strikes made those pages sing.

The Defenders #4 is a fun cap to a very enjoyable opening arc. Bendis knows how to write team books and he knows how to write these characters. But David Marquez turns this into a truly strong book, and well worth picking up. Check it out digitally or in our local comic book shop now!

Score: 8 Emergency Transfers out of 10