Punisher: The Platoon 1 (December 2017)

Punisher: The Platoon #1

Punisher: The Platoon is Garth Ennis doing a Vietnam war comic with Frank Castle. Young Frank Castle. Green Frank Castle. An author has tracked down Castle’s first platoon to interview them for a book; the author is never seen. Is it Ennis? Peter Parker? Maybe we’ll find out by issue six.

The Vietnam stuff is excellent. Castle’s just become a second lieutenant, it’s his first ever command, his first ever time in a war zone. Platoon is a colorful story, almost jarring the reader from Goran Parlov’s art. It’s precise and tranquil. There’s no violence until Castle arrives.

Ennis is using a couple different points of view devices for the flashback. Subjective narration, presumably objective events. It’s interesting. Art’s great. Seems like Ennis found something else to say about Big Frank. And, if not, hopefully he can get a new car from the Marvel bucks.


1: Crack the Sky and Shake the Earth; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kathleen Wisneski and Kathleen Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Spirits of Vengeance 1 (December 2017)

Spirits of Vengeance #1

The world is coming to an end and only this ragtag team of Marvel supernatural characters can stop it. Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider. Blade the Vampire Hunter. Damian Hellstrom the Hellstrom. Satana Hellstrom the scantily clad.

Sadly, Spirits of Vengeance does not read like a tawdry seventies comic (and looks less like one). Instead, it’s just a by-the-numbers setup issue with Johnny searching down Hellstrom. David Baldeon’s art is so slick it’s like he’s doing marketing materials for a Disneyland ride, not an end-of-the-world horror comic.

Writer Victor Gischler keeps it moving–a little too fast, the end is hurried–and tries to get in occasional personality moments. But, in the end, it’s just another bland modern Marvel comic; wish they knew what to do with their supernatural characters. There’s got to be something better than this Vengeance.


War at the Gates of Hell, Part One; writer, Victor Gischler; artist, David Baldeón; colorist, Andres Mossa; letterer, Cory Petit; editor, Chris Robinson; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Retcon 1 (September 2017)

Retcon #1

Retcon is about these secret paranormal military guys going out and killing secret paranormal ex-military guys. There’s a lot more back story on it and a fair amount of details–nothing really on the characters, just events and magical stuff–but the main story is pretty fast.

Two agents are tracking a former agent in an AA meeting, they get orders to “disavow” the former agent (in front of the AA members), one of them balks. Then it turns out the former agent has a magic werebear thing going on and the balking current agent has a different magic thing going on.

Toby Cypress’s art is wild, but constrained and thoughtful. Matt Nixon’s script is fine. The comic drags in parts, speeds in parts (especially in the cliffhanger setup), but it’s fine. It’s engaging, even if the characters don’t get any sympathy besides being possible victims.


T.P.T.B.; writer, Matt Nixon; artist, Toby Cypress; letterer, Matt Krotzer; publisher, Image Comics.

Batman: White Knight 1 (December 2017)

Batman: White Knight #1

Batman: White Night is ambitious. Writer-artist Sean Murphy, after years of drawing excellent Batman in middling Batman comics for high profile writers, is trying both hats. And he’s not going to do anything small. He’s going to do the Joker, because Murphy’s not going big and new, he’s going big and old. A deconstruction of the Joker and Batman’s rivalry. Complete with “Batman: The Animated Series”, Batman ’89, a Killing Joke reference, lots more. Maybe a Bat-Mite.

But it’s all modern with Murphy doing the TV talking heads arguing–a little a la Miller, but also just “cable news” and whatnot. He can’t write that scene. His fascist defender of Batman doesn’t have any arguments. So it’s not going to be perfect. Murphy’s hitting a lot of demographics, a lot of zeitgeist, and he’s got it pretty well balanced, but it’s extremely calculated.

And maybe there’s something to the concept–what if Batman’s actually just a fascist brute and the Joker gets cured and decides to save the world from him?

The art’s amazing. Murphy’s got a lot of Batman love on display, from Nightwing, Batgirl, Gordon, Bullock, whoever else. It’s going to be amusing for its details, beautiful for its art, and who knows what for Murphy’s big idea. I hope it stays afloat. The Joker’s whole backstory is already silly–he’s a Batman stan (stalker slash fan) who was a criminal to improve Bats’s crime-fighting.


Maybe it’ll pan out. Maybe it won’t. But it’ll have great art and fun references.


Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Dastardly & Muttley 2 (December 2017)

Dastardly & Muttley #2

I am now on board with Dastardly and Muttley but with one caveat. As the world descends into an ultra-violent, wacky cartoon mania–so, of course, Ennis should write it–Ennis needs to keep the “President of the United States” gags in check.

The President of the United States killing someone with a giant cartoon mallet during a press conference isn’t as funny as it used to be (and only then if the setup were great). Instead, it’s probably something the world’s going to be worried about in 2019.

But otherwise, Ennis has got the comic set. He just needed to waste an issue doing pointless setup. This issue has much better plotting, much better pacing, much more affable characterization. It’s good. Nice art, again, from Mauricet. He’s got a playful but disciplined style. His dog faces are phenomenal.


2: And You Ain’t No Friend of Mine; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Mauricet; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Brittany Holzherr and
Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Cinema Purgatorio 12 (September 2017)

Cinema Purgatorio #12

Moore and O’Neil open the issue with a story about stunt men. It’s set to It’s a Wonderful Life–like the plot beats–only it’s about how George Bailey’s guardian angel is really a stuntman. It’s rushed, without much content–though some real nice art from O’Neil–and Moore concentrates more on the mysteries of the movie theater. It is, however, past the point it can disappoint. Cinema Purgatorio has long since passed that point.

Ennis and Caceres do a bait and switch on Code Pru. The opening graphic is a lot more intriguing than the actual entry, which ends up riffing on a very popular “monster” movie. There’s some okay art, but the strip is too far gone.

Modded has a lot of nonsense speak from Gillen for the gaming and some nice art from Lopez. Not nice enough art its worth reading the comic, but it’s nice art.

Oh, I forgot A More Perfect Union, which actually manages to be the least thoughtful comic in the whole issue. Everyone else is doing something really complicated–or at least somewhat complicated–Brooks isn’t with Union. He leverages Andrade’s art against his “historically accurate” Civil War against the giant ants.


The Vast has evil Russian(?) kaiju. Who cares. It’s funny, Andrade’s art is perfect in black and white on Union, but it really needs color on The Vast. Or better inks.

It’s Cinema Purgatorio; I’m going to keep reading it, but I’m never hopeful it’s going to come through again.


Cinema Purgatorio, It’s a Breakable Life; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Clever Girl; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Godshaper 6 (September 2017)

Godshaper #6

Godshaper comes to its finish. There’s some good art from Goonface, but he literally doesn’t have room again. The concert hall is too small for the giant gods and the pages are too small for all Ennay is supposed to be doing. But there’s some good art and some nice feels to the issue.

Those nice feels, courtesy Spurrier’s shiny happy ending, are in the place of any actual finish to the comic. Spurrier spins things up and drops them in new places. He leverages a lot on the likability of the cast–a whole lot, more as the comic goes on–without doing anything for them. It just wraps up.

Godshaper peaked early, so it didn’t exactly waste potential, but it’s a shame it didn’t work out. Spurrier probably should’ve decided on the narrative tone before the last issue.


Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jonas Goonface; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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