The Punisher 5 (December 2001)

The Punisher #5

Good grief–Ennis end the comic with a big Dubya is an alcoholic moron joke right before 9/11. Did they change the reveal for the trade?

It’s a dumb joke too. Instead of giving the Punisher an actual enemy, it gives Ennis a scene. He has lots of scenes this issue, some better than others, some pointless like this one. The big finale with the Russian is sort of pointless because there’s a predetermined finish to it.

Or maybe Ennis is keeping the Russian around even longer, because it’s easier for him to do absurdist humor than to write the comic.

There are a couple okay moments in the issue, like when the Punisher stands off against the big villain. The villain’s a mercenary general who has a long speech. Ennis goes for a cheap finish.

It’s a tired finish but it works okay… just like the comic itself.

B- 

CREDITS

No Limits; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Saida Temofonte; editors, Kelly Lamy, Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Punisher 4 (October 2001)

The Punisher #4

Ennis has lost track of any real person–by real person, I mean the bartender from the first couple issues or maybe one of Soap’s cop antagonists–and he’s back to having a jolly old time. Lots and lots of pop culture references. Some day you’ll need footnotes to understand all the references and then further footnotes to explain why they’re funny.

Oh, Sixth Sense plot twist jokes. Let me wipe the tear from my eye.

Still, Ennis is taking Frank a little more serious this issue. He’s the protagonist for his scenes in the issue, not the subject, not the butt of wry jokes. And Ennis does give him some vaguely interesting things to do. Not inventive so much, but diverting.

The problem is the lack of content and the villain. The villain is lame and boring, which even Ennis seems to accept.

Dillon does well on the art.

B- 

CREDITS

Dirty Work; 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.

The Punisher 3 (September 2001)

The Punisher #3

It’s the Punisher on an island of dumb mercenaries. Or the next issue will be–and Ennis even goes so far as to promise it’ll be a good one for the soft cliffhanger. Actually, this issue is mostly exposition.

There’s exposition at the beginning while Frank hangs some corrupt cop off a roof for information, then it’s Frank narrated exposition about Mr. Big, then it’s Frank’s pilot with a bunch of exposition; all the action comes at the end on the island.

The strange part about the comic is how engaged Ennis gets with the material. There are a few times where he almost seems like he wants to be serious. Then he remembers he can’t be too serious, but the intention is definitely present.

The result is a mediocre comic in a lot of ways, but also the best issue of this Punisher series so far. Ennis’s finally interested.

B 

CREDITS

American Ugly; 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.

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.

The Punisher 1 (August 2001)

The Punisher #1

Garth Ennis takes a rather strange approach to this issue–and presumably this Punisher series. He does it as a comedy. There are levels of mocking, with the Punisher getting the least and Soap getting the most. There are some actual criminals in there and their stupidity gets mocked, but they’re at least aware. Soap isn’t even aware.

Meanwhile, Steve Dillon does some pretty good art on the issue. He’s not drawing anything particularly fantastic, subject-wise, but he’s doing good work.

I just read the comic and I can’t remember much about it. The cliffhanger is a big one, but not as big as the reveal of the villain. Ennis is going for Preacher-level absurdity without any justification. It’s goofy, but he thinks it’ll be funny, so he’s using it. Not just logic be darned, but sense of reality be darned.

He’s not trying, but it’s still okay.

B- 

CREDITS

Well Come On Everybody and Let’s Get Together Tonight; 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.

The Punisher 12 (March 2001)

The Punisher #12

Why is the only good scene in the issue–besides the apartment cast’s send-off, of course–when Soap meets the Punisher? The rest of the stuff with Soap is dumb, as are the other subplot resolutions, but there’s something about that scene. Maybe Ennis thinks of the reader as Soap, someone dumb enough to be amused even after a seagull tags you’re forehead.

Because The Punisher is pointless. There’s no story for Frank, not since the first or second issue. There’s no story for the mobsters or the cops. The story for the apartment cast would be more amusing than this comic but only because Ennis actually worked on them.

The series has had some very high points, but Ennis failed to follow through on anything. He introduced ideas, did some development, then forgot them.

Even Dillon seems to have given up a little, especially with his figure drawing.

D 

CREDITS

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

The Punisher 11 (February 2001)

The Punisher #11

Ennis continues with the goofy issues. The dialogue out of this one is hideous. Ennis is going for cheap one liners. It’s awful.

But, hey, the detectives might have something to do next issue. Maybe for a minute or two. Though Ennis could have given them something to do this issue; instead he reminds the reader of their presence, which he’s been doing for the last few issues. Promising they’ll eventually pay off.

Kind of like the other idiot vigilantes. It’s not good comic relief or anything else at this point. Ennis tries to rationalize the absurd way too much in this comic. He goes for humor in those rationalizations and it gets old fast.

The supporting cast all get their page time this issue and Ennis continues to protect them.
Like everything else, Ennis has no idea what to do with them but at least they are likable characters.

C 

CREDITS

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

The Punisher 10 (January 2001)

The Punisher #10

An issue long fight scene with the Punisher mostly getting his butt kicked. Ennis goes for light, edgy humor from the Russian. Nothing too far, but some of the jokes are still smart.

Then there are detectives Molly and Soap. They get a talking heads scene and then it’s off to the vigilantes teaming up. Unfortunately, Ennis doesn’t have anything for the detectives to talk about because they’re not doing anything anymore. They’re sitting around.

The vigilantes are not sitting around, they are driving around. Ennis goes for a lot of humor with them. It’s the worst he’s done with the Elite one and Mr. Payback. This issue brings them down to the level of the priest. It’s really too bad.

As for that big fight scene… it’s only the first round. There’s another round; hopefully Ennis will have mercy and cut to the best parts instead of plodding through.

C 

CREDITS

Glutton for Punishment; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Kelly Lamy and Nanci Dakesian; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Punisher 9 (December 2000)

The Punisher #9

Enter the Russian and Ennis bringing in another weak villain, but one he can try to use for humor. Why use him for humor? Apparently there’s not enough comedy with the Punisher caring about his neighbors. The scenes with the neighbors are all soft, sensitive scenes. I thought Frank was going to tell the overweight guy to eat healthy.

The villain gives the mob story some freshness and then the detectives get some freshness and it feels like something might be happening. But it’s not really happening, it’s just Soap and Molly talking and Ennis trying to figure out the most rewarding moments. Rewarding to the reader, not to the story, which is the big problem.

Even the good scenes don’t hold up. Ennis has Frank too jaded, given though he’s clear about the series not being too jaded. They’re probably supposed to be black humor moments but they flop.

C 

CREDITS

From Russia with Love; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Kelly Lamy and Nanci Dakesian; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Punisher 8 (November 2000)

The Punisher #8

It’s kind of a talking heads issue. There’s some action with Frank having to save Dave and he bonds a little with Joan. Ennis has problems working Frank into the humor. He’s the Punisher is the punch line to too many of Ennis’s jokes.

There’s also a lot with Soap and Molly. They don’t serve a purpose in the story at all, so Ennis just fills out with them. They’re another enjoyable part of Ennis’s big Punisher story, which ostensibly should have been about him getting Ma Gnucci.

She’s not a good villain though. So Ennis has to do really awful things around her to make her seem like a good villain. The secret of this series is its shallow depth. Ennis is just doing enough character work to make it seem substantial, but he’s really just trying to get done with his twelve issues.

And he’s doing relatively fine.

B- 

CREDITS

Desperate Measures; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Kelly Lamy and Nanci Dakesian; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Punisher 7 (October 2000)

The Punisher #7

Should I call this a bridging issue or maybe I should call it a highway interchange issue because Ennis is bringing so much together. This subplot meets this other subplot and leads into the connection to the next subplot. It goes on and on.

It’s amusing. Ennis writes it well. The stupid priest thing has the detectives in it and they’re still funny. Whenever Ennis writes loser guys and their female partners who don’t want them romantically, it’s good. He should really do a series of just them.

Oh, yeah, Frank’s neighbors–who he mocks in his first person narration–once again get the kid glove treatment from Ennis. Dave and Joan are protected characters. Ennis coddles them; it’s a strange thing, since they’re the most obvious characters for him to coddle.

Still, it’s pretty good. Mr. Payback and the Elite are both funny. Ennis’s clearly exercising entertainment over ambition.

B 

CREDITS

Bring out Your Dead; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editor, Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Punisher 6 (September 2000)

The Punisher #6

The issue starts so much better than it ends. It opens with everyone but the Punisher and the serial killer priest. There’s a little with Frank thinking about how he needs to move and some comedy with his neighbors, but not a lot. Ennis almost makes it seem like he’s switching over during that comedy and then pulls away again. The two cops are getting a lot more important.

Then comes the big action scene and Dillon doesn’t do great with it. He does okay, but not great. All the first person Frank stuff is comparing his current life to Vietnam and it doesn’t work. Ennis is making fun of the character at this point. The whole issue has had a wink about Frank. But no one else. Everyone else Ennis takes seriously.

The result is less rewarding than it should be… but it’s still amazing how hard Ennis works.

B 

CREDITS

Spit out of Luck; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editor, Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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.

The Punisher 4 (July 2000)

The Punisher #4

I wonder if Molly the detective wears sunglasses so Steve Dillon gets a little less to draw. I assume they’re also there so she looks too cool to hang out with Detective Soap, but still. It’s disconcerting having a character without expressions.

This issue, save the killer priest scene, which is particularly crappy, is rather good. Ennis sets up the detectives teaming up and does a little comedy relief with Soap. But most of the issue is real time with Frank on the run through Central Park. Some of the exposition is odd–Frank pauses to watch polar bears eat a bad guy and Ennis all of a sudden introduces the idea he’s a sadist for sadism’s sake. It’s brief, all by itself and very strange.

There’s a gentleness to how Ennis handles some of it. Frank’s oddly gentle, even when vicious, and Ennis handles Soap gently.

It’s good stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

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 Punisher 2 (May 2000)

The Punisher #2

Everything is going swimmingly until the end. Sure, Ennis doesn’t write Frank’s threatening dialogue as well as he writes his narration, which continues to be sublime, but the plotting is phenomenal. Frank methodically goes up the food chain on the mob family, with Ennis showing the steps in Frank’s investigation.

Ennis also brings in some of the supporting cast. He uses them for humor–the poor, unlucky cop and his peers. It’s a good relief valve for the Punisher story. While Frank’s got a certain sense of humor, it tends to make things more tense.

The end, however, is a disaster. Ennis breaks the reality he’s creating for the comic, introducing a villain more appropriate for Preacher. At this point, the comic goes from being Garth Ennis writing Punisher to Ennis writing his “style” in a Punisher comic. Ennis even changes the way humor works for that ending.

Rather unfortunate.

B 

CREDITS

Badaboom, Badabing; 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 Punisher 1 (April 2000)

The Punisher #1

Garth Ennis has a real sense of exuberance with The Punisher. Steve Dillon not as much–maybe he realized how round Jimmy Palmiotti’s inks would make the pencils–but the art’s still good. Every line of Ennis’s narration from Frank is enthralled, though. Even though nothing happens this issue, that narration makes it worth it.

Until the end maybe. Ennis has to address recent changes in the character history and the lines recounting the Punisher’s days as an angel are too jarring. Ennis can get wrapped up in Frank’s worldview but there’s no way to make that angel stuff sound good.

The narration is tempting; Ennis brings the reader over to Frank’s side. The way Frank thinks, the way he plans out his attacks, the mindset–it almost immediately makes perfect sense. Probably because of the awesome opening sequence.

It’s commercial Ennis. He’s funny and tender; any viciousness is superficial.

B+ 

CREDITS

Welcome Back, Frank; 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.

Fury: My War Gone By 13 (August 2013)

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I hate to use the phrase, but it’s appropriate here. No way did Ennis earn the ending to My War Gone By.

The final issue has nothing to do with Nick Fury; not the character in this series or the brand. It has to do with all Ennis’s little characters who played in the series–not any of the guest stars either, so they turn out to be pointless. Ennis does whatever he can to bring it back to Nick and it just doesn’t work.

It’s trite and contrived. I’m a little shocked, actually. At least if Ennis had somehow made all the flash matter, it would have been honest to the series.

Maybe he tried too hard, maybe he didn’t try enough, but My War Gone By is a failed attempt. The effort is laudable, however. Telling such a serious story; it’s a shame commerce got in the way.

CREDITS

But Yet We’ll Write a Final Rhyme While Waiting Crucifixion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 12 (July 2013)

Fury MAX Vol 1 12

Ennis gives Nick his big chance and he blows it. Parlov’s expression on his face is just amazing.

The wrap up with Barracuda isn’t bad at all. Ennis comes up with a more interesting solution to the Nicaragua question than I was expecting; there’s even a good moment for the sidekick, who’s been superfluous for almost nine issues at this point.

There’s finally an conversation about aging, though shouldn’t the whole series been about it. Ennis either tried too much or not enough; he’s probably done the best he could with the concept, but it being Nick Fury… he could only do so much.

Maybe some of his decisions–no SHIELD, no Dum-Dum, no explanation of what Nick does in the decades between arcs–were bad ones.

He definitely has primed Fury for the final issue. I assume it’ll be good, though not enough to tie it all together.

CREDITS

Before Man Was, War Waited; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 11 (June 2013)

Fury MAX Vol 1 11

And here Nick figures out what Barracuda’s been doing.

The senator and Nick’s girlfriend have a big blow out too–lots about all the years gone by, which feels somewhat forced. Ennis writes all his scenes quite well, but his timing of them is questionable. Why the senator and the girlfriend are having the fight now, why Nick hasn’t made a smart ass remark to his sidekick in fifteen years. All contrived for maximum effect.

It might just have been impossible for Ennis to do the story straight. He’s dealing with a brand character, after all. But dropping Nick Fury into history makes a lot more sense if Nick can change history–the implication being he did so during World War II. Now he’s just a spectator.

It’s a well-written comic, but the concept has failed.

There’s nothing left to care about or anticipate anymore. The thrill is gone.

CREDITS

My Brother Earned His Medals at My Lai in Vietnam; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 10 (May 2013)

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Oh, Nick’s bald friend is his sidekick. I read through the text introduction too fast, I guess.

For this arc, Ennis puts Fury in the middle of some more great U.S. foreign policy–Nicaragua in 1984. Nick is old, grey and still a colonel working for the CIA. I guess Ennis decided to skip over why he doesn’t age (though he mentioned it) and there’s no SHIELD in MAX.

It works, sure, but it might have worked better if Ennis made his intentions clear from the start. Probably wouldn’t have sold to the regular reader, if there are any regular Nick Fury readers out there.

Ennis brings in Barracuda, villain of his worst Punisher MAX arc, and does a little better with the character in this appearance. Nick’s smarter than him, which helps.

There’s some stuff with the senator and Nick’s girlfriend; it’s mostly setup in Nicaragua. It works.

CREDITS

The Sunny Slopes of Long Ago; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 9 (April 2013)

FuryMax9Cover

And here’s the great conclusion Ennis promised.

It’s an action issue, mostly, with Frank and Nick taking on impossible odds. Besides the prison break and Nick and his nemesis, Parlov draws it all very calm. The hill is idyllic. Frank’s a sniper in peaceful tall grass.

Ennis gets his little Frank Castle moment, with Nick stunned at the efficiency of Frank’s sniper skills. And Parlov sells the sequence too. He knows how to compose for visual payoff.

The only bit of personality–for the comic, not Nick, as Ennis smartly has him narrate most of the escape–comes at the end. Ennis answers one of the many questions he raises about Nick Fury. If he won’t betray America, what will he do to people who betray Americans?

It’s a good little moment. The best the series has had in a few issues.

Ennis is still running out of steam though.

CREDITS

Nobody Does It Quite the Way You Do; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 8 (March 2013)

500px Fury MAX Vol 1 8

Ennis sure does like writing Nick captured issues. He and Castle get caught on their assassination mission in Vietnam. Their target, it turns out, doesn’t like the CIA running heroin through Vietnam and wants to make an example.

There’s a lot of talking. It’s mostly an expository history lesson. There’s only one real scene–Nick’s sidekick and his girlfriend talk for a page or two. The rest of the issue is leading up to the next one. Lots and lots of time preparing the reader for next issue’s daring escape.

It’s okay enough but bringing Frank Castle into the comic has done nothing for Ennis. Maybe raised expectations of some kind of payoff for the appearance. But Ennis is writing a war comic, not a superhero war comic.

It seems every couple issues he ramps up expectations, this issue is no different. Too bad he didn’t just tell a story.

CREDITS

The Judgment of Your Peers; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 6 (November 2012)

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The senator has a long monologue where he talks about the fallout from the Bay of Pigs. The whole issue is fallout, starting with Nick and his team, then with his lady friend and the senator.

Ennis approaches the ideology of the whole invasion. One of Nick’s team is very jingoistic, anti-Red; Ennis–and Nick–just lets him talk. The politics don’t matter, but the character’s mettle does. It contributes to an unexpected finish for the issue.

Most of the issue is either talking or the Cubans torturing captives. So the finish, which ties into what Ennis did with the first few issues, is a resounding success. Fury all of a sudden becomes a war comic, even though it’s an espionage story and there’s no war. It’s one of those moments of quiet in a war story.

Ennis’s choice to loose Nick Fury in the real world works great.

CREDITS

An’ Go to Your Gawd As a Soldier; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 5 (October 2012)

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Ennis tells a story set during the Bay of Pigs invasion. It’s not really a history lesson–there’s some details in the dialogue, but not enough to inform the reader. There’s a little more with the exiled Cubans in the States, but those guys aren’t real people, just stand-ins for them.

Instead, Ennis concentrates on Fury and his team in Cuba. They watch the result of the U.S. not backing its players. Parlov doesn’t actually so much death–there’s a lot of destruction, but the death is implied. Ennis gets the betrayal plays better off panel. Then there’s a comment from Nick every few pages about it.

The best thing is the attempt to assassinate Castro. Ennis doesn’t get political with Nick–he could care less about it–but there’s still some anticipation about whether or not MAX universe Castro is assassinated.

It’s good, but not particularly special.

CREDITS

Get Ready to Shed a Tear; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 4 (September 2012)

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It’s an unhappy issue. From the start, with modern Nick narrating his life story–and explaining why it’s all been wrong-headed–to the flashback with Nick’s love life taking a turn for the worse… it’s unhappy.

There’s no action, just conversation. It’s sort of a talking heads issue, but spread over a few days. Nick and his sidekick head to Miami after planning the Bay of Pigs, but before the incident itself. Ennis has a few great techniques for getting in exposition without going overboard.

The supporting cast–the girl, the senator, the sidekick–stays the same even though years have passed since the last issue. Even though Nick’s a man of action, Ennis is using him to show how little anyone–even a comic book protagonist–matters in the course of history.

It’s a depressing issue, probably because Nick’s so depressed throughout.

Some particularly excellent Parlov art too.

CREDITS

If We Was Meant to Be Cowboys; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Sebastian Girner and Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 3 (August 2012)

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It’s a disquieting issue. Disquieting is about the only word for it.

Ennis opens with a talking heads scene between Nick and his sidekick. They talk about the modern world, the Nazi, patriotism. Ennis does well with the sidekick. Nick needs someone to argue with over ideology. Makes for good dialogue too.

Then there’s the big battle scene. Except the big battle only last three pages; Ennis deals more with the lead-in to it. There’s a lot of detail in the lead-in. The battle is all for effect, to show how Nick experiences it.

The finish has a couple more unexpected turns. The bigger one comes at the end with the soft cliffhanger, but there’s the way Ennis brings in the girl and the senator too. He’s taken all the glamour of out Nick Fury and he still manages to strip off a few more layers.

Excellent work.

CREDITS

And Some People Left for Heaven Without Warning; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Sebastian Girner and Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

Fury: My War Gone By 2 (July 2012)

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Garth Ennis probably missed his calling as a history professor or at least the writer of history books. He has an amazing small section where Fury explains what’s wrong with the French military approach to fighting in Vietnam. It’s short, concise and completely digestible.

He also has a great device–the visiting senator–for allowing Nick to do expository dialogue.

The first half of the issue deals with the overall plot, at least how it concerns all the supporting players. There’s the girl, who Nick’s shacked up with, there’s the senator (her boss), there’s the sidekick, there’s the former Nazi soldier.

Even at his most inventive, the first half is what one would expect. It’s excellent, but nothing surprises. The second half, when a French base is attacked, is astounding. Ennis and Parlov brilliantly choreograph the sequence–the sidekick being the reader’s point of view.

Ennis has ambitions for Fury.

CREDITS

Number One Fucky; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Sebastian Girner and Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.

The Punisher 6 (February 2012)

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I’ve got to say… Rucka’s never going to be able to recover from the Punisher having a snow outfit. It’s like Batman & Robin or something. Next he’ll have ice skates in his boots.

This issue’s pretty lame. Once again, Frank is silent. But more, Lady Punisher is mostly silent too. The big predictable set piece happens and Rucka (along with new artists Matthews Southworth and Clark) channel their nineties John Woo. Is John Woo still cool enough to channel? I don’t think so.

There’s nothing particularly terrible about the comic. Oh, sure, the white snowsuit Punisher costume (perfect for an action figure variant at the Disney Store) is dumb and the two Matthews have lots of art problems, but it’s not offensive.

It’s just juvenile. Rucka finally was making some progress on the book and he’s completely flushed it. He still hasn’t made Frank Castle a character.

The Punisher‘s pointless.

The Punisher 5 (January 2012)

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It’s a slightly odd issue. Whoever thought a Punisher Thanksgiving special would be good, but Rucka uses the holiday to give some insight into the cast.

Three months have passed since the last issue and Rucka is catching the reader up with the cast, including the Punisher’s ten-year old sidekick. The sidekick will likely be Frank’s conscience at some point.

I’m not a fan of this boy band Punisher–Bendis’s Ultimate Punisher from Team-Up certainly wasn’t boy band–but Rucka does well with the supporting cast. He works a little on his Lady Punisher storyline, taking his time, kneading the subplot gently. His female characters are better than his male. The guys are just stereotypes, the women have actual depth.

Checchetto’s art is still solid without being sensational or entirely on target. There isn’t a single memorable panel.

The Punisher is professional and competent, but otherwise rather uninspired.

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