The Punisher 3 (June 2000)

The Punisher #3

Ennis brings in Daredevil for what seems like a bad idea cameo and turns out to be a great one. It’s a lot of talking heads with Frank and Matt Murdock arguing about what’s justice and whatnot. Only Ennis makes sure to bring in some action every few pages so it doesn’t get boring.

Elsewhere, Ennis is building up the black comedy adventures of the cop. There isn’t much to the scenes, but they’re fine. All of the issue, except the serial killer priest, is fine. Ennis doesn’t get ambitious, except maybe with the Daredevil twists; he and Dillon are selling a deliberate product.

The rest of the issue has just Ennis setting up for the Daredevil confrontation. It figures into the big mob family plot tangentially. I think they just wanted to have the cameo. Or guest star. Daredevil’s in here a lot.

It’s a shame about the priest.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Devil by the Horns; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Joe Quesada and Palmiotti; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Auteur 3 (May 2014)

The Auteur #3

What just happened here? It’s like Spears put together two weak ideas–the very Hollywood one of how does his lunatic producer deal with an actress who won’t take off her top and then what happens if the producer’s serial killer sidekick actually kills someone. The result is a pointless, personality-free issue of The Auteur.

Maybe Spears just hit the mid-arc plateau and doesn’t know what to do. A five issue story sometimes needs to be four. Or six. This issue suggests four.

Not even the jokes are funny. Way too much time is spent on puke jokes. Even the hallucinogenic sequence is weak. Callahan doesn’t have anything to do with it, just some ghosts and a giant bunny. But they aren’t even around long enough to leave an impression.

The issue’s problems are worrisome, like maybe the comic has run out of steam.

I really hope not.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 3 of 5: Unprecedented Realism!; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Stray Bullets 27 (October 2002)

Stray Bullets #27

How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

F 

CREDITS

Broken; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Prophet 44 (May 2014)

Prophet #44

There was an unfortunate amount of time I spent on this issue waiting for Old John and crew to show up. I should have been appreciating the wonder Graham and artist Dave Taylor were doing instead. Luckily, I caught on in time.

The issue is from the perspective of a being who is part of the empire ruling the galaxy. Graham only hints at how the empire works and who actually runs things and why, but the possibilities he raises are glorious.

The issue is first person, from the perspective of this agent of the empire. She’s got a mission to investigate a planet. On the way she has side adventures and there’s a lot of history to things and Graham has already established the character anyway. He opens on this lovely scene with the protagonist and her lover.

Xurxo G. Penalta’s cute but trite backup can’t dim the issue.

A+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Graham; artist and colorist, Dave Taylor; letterer, Ed Brisson. Lasersaw Crystal Canals; writer and artist, Xurxo G. Penalta. Publisher, Image Comics.

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