The Punisher 5 (August 2000)

The Punisher #5

Ennis develops Frank this issue and it’s unexpected. He’s fully aware of his mental state. He knows he kills criminals to feel a little better, a little more in control, whatever. He’s even mad at Giuliani for lowering crime in New York.

It’s an odd line. Even with all the odd stuff with Frank walking around the city bemoaning his situation, the Giuliani thing is still odder. Maybe it’s because all these other murderous vigilantes, each attacking different segments on the community. The priest hits the sinners, the Payback guy hits Wall Street crooks, the Elite guy gentrifies with a vengeance. I feel like there’s another one.

Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. Ennis is playing up the comedy, even though he still stays respectful of certain things. His principal supporting cast for Frank–the lovable apartment dwellers–Ennis doesn’t quite sell them out. Soap and Molly are seemingly safe too.

B 

CREDITS

Even Worse Things; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editor, Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ghosted 9 (April 2014)

Ghosted #9

Williamson gets away with a lot of exposition. Jackson and the kidnapped, possessed girl are on the run through the jungle of ghost animals–which turns out to be somewhat cute, in an amusing turn–and the girl just talks and talks. But the way Williamson paces out the conversation, it works great. There’s danger and tension and the dialogue fits between. Very nicely done.

Also cool is the finish, when things are looking bad for the heroes. The first person narration is sparing and Williamson usually uses it for humor. Why overuse the acerbic wit, especially when the characters are in great danger. It’d be too jokey. There’s a lot of control with the script.

The ending–and the jungle–wouldn’t work without Gianfelice’s art. He’s got the expressions down, which is important, because so much of the characters’ motivations are unsaid.

The comic’s sturdy, reliably and very entertaining.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Davide Gianfelice; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooton; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Stray Bullets 29 (January 2003)

Stray Bullets #29

Ugh. Really, there’s no other word for it. Ugh. Lapham’s colliding of all his story lines and characters continues with Roger the detective–the one who had such a cool dating issue–hunting down Monster to find Virginia. Only Lapham has always used Monster as a force of nature, so having him go up against very real cops is kind of like a horror movie.

There’s also a bunch of lengthy jail interviews between Roger and Beth. Not to mention all the journals from Virginia while she was being held captive.

Lapham is bad with all of it. Why read Stray Bullets for a cop story? Lapham established the series as startling stories about people who experience violence. Roger’s just doing his job.

Worst is how Lapham just apes his plotting for the Beth investigation comic. It’s painfully uninspired. While not as bad as it could be, it’s still terrible.

D 

CREDITS

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

A Voice in the Dark 7 (May 2014)

A Voice in the Dark #7

Taylor finishes up the arc and he doesn’t shy away from the murders. He’s still working in the severely layered timeline–going back and rereading the arc and understanding how the past and present move through would probably be an interesting experience. I’m sure it reads a little different.

The issue is mostly methodical, with the protagonist going through her plans and then the actual murders she commits. Taylor’s again great at keeping judgment out of the tone, even when the protagonist questions herself. She’s a likable serial killer (and these are bad people).

Only Taylor never goes into the future. The entire five part arc, the contemporary stuff, it ends with the protagonist’s success. There’s a hard cliffhanger to build anticipation but it’s on the boring “other serial killers” subplot. There’s nothing with Zoey’s life outside being an avenging angel serial killer.

Still, it’s a satisfactory finish to the arc.

B 

CREDITS

Killing Game, Part Five; writer, artist and letterer, Larime Taylor; editor, Duncan Eagleson; publisher, Image Comics.

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