The Punisher 2 (August 2001)

The Punisher #2

More funny stuff from Ennis. He’s got some cheap jokes but he sure does thoughtfully arrange them. He’s even for a bunch of Marvel puns in the comic–referencing Giant-Size Man-Thing and Marvel Team-Up, though he could have gone further with the pun about the latter.

But the comic itself? The Punisher and the new, improved Russian duking it out on the Empire State Building. Spider-Man shows up. Foreshadowing. There’s not much else to it. It’s an amusing read; if Ennis had any good observations about Marvel comics, it’d be better, but it’s amusing enough.

The many misadventures of Martin Soap continues as well. Ennis doesn’t try hard with Soap either. He doesn’t have to try hard.

The Spider-Man cameo is sort of wasted and it doesn’t help Dillon can’t draw the costumed figure well.

But it’s fine. Painfully unambitious and disinterested and totally fine.

B- 

CREDITS

Does Whatever a Spider Can; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Kelly Lamy, Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Sons of Anarchy 11 (July 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #11

I thought this issue might just be okay–good, but not startling. Then Brisson does a big double ante finish with a surprise or two. He foreshadows them both, but discreetly enough they aren’t predictable. He’s got a loose focus on the cast this issue–the regular Anarchy club members are practically guest stars–and it lets him get away with a lot.

This arc is apparently set in Arizona and involves another biker gang trying to expand their meth empire. The local SAMTAZ chapter gets drug into it, the regular cast just happen to be visiting. It’s not an engaging situation in and of itself, but the way Brisson plots it makes it compelling.

Of course, Couceiro’s art is an essential part of the series’s success. He’s able to go between the action set pieces and the talking heads without missing a beat. His realism makes the outrageous believable.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 6 (November 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #6

The first two-thirds of this issue is rather good. Conway resolves the cliffhanger–Firestorm versus the Pied Piper–and has time to work the romance between Firestorm and frequent supervillain victim Lorraine Reilly before developing the friendship between Ronnie and Professor Stein. It leads into further character development and then it's Firestorm time again.

Oh, wait, forgot–the Pied Piper grows hooves. Again, it's Conway's formula for the comic but it works. He acknowledges the time between story arcs well; it lets him get away with so much action in an issue. The characters do have passive development between issues.

Only, the big battle scene at the end–Firestorm against a bunch of satyrs–is a mess. The art's good, but Conway reveals the villain's evil scheme in third person exposition. It would have been a lot more effective from Firestorm's point of view, not the omniscient comic writer.

While problematic, it's entertaining superhero adventure.

B 

CREDITS

The Pandrakos Plot; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Princess Ugg 2 (July 2014)

Princess Ugg #2

Well, this issue is sure disappointing. It’s basically a montage sequence of the other princesses bring crappy to Princess √úlga. Naifeh could have gotten the same effect with about half the teasing and then an actual story for the rest of the issue. Instead, the soft cliffhanger implies next issue is when there’s actual character development.

All the teasing doesn’t do anything for the characters; Naifeh is writing the comic for the reader and breaking out the scenes for the reader. He’s not showing how √úlga is experiencing the teasing from her classmates and teachers. He doesn’t show her experience until the end of the issue, in a rather predictable turn of events. And then the comic’s basically over.

It’s a bummer of a misfire.

The comic is impeccably illustrated and it retains a bunch of the series’ charm, it just doesn’t do anything. A second issue shouldn’t tread water.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorist and letterer, Warren Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

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