I wonder how this issue would be with a decent artist. Not even a good artist, just a decent one. One who clearly doesn’t have the time he needs to get the issue complete. Because Aira’s art is occasionally almost okay. He could be doing a better job. When it’s really bad, it’s because he’s rushing.
Regardless, it still really hurts the comic. Ennis is trying a different thing with this seventies-set story. He’s trying a different style of storytelling, he’s trying a different character relationship; he’s also going all out on the battle stuff. Aira can’t just not those elements competently, he doesn’t bring anything to the art.
There are also some Ennis problems with this issue. This War Stories arc features soldiers who spout lots of exposition, meaning they have to be very well informed. There’s no groundwork for that situation.
Ennis does keep his style fresh.
Children of Israel, Part Two: In Fire They Will Come; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
Garth Ennis goes somewhat modern with the latest War Storiese arc, jumping to the late sixties and the story of an Israeli tank commander. He’s got a flashback to WWII, with the same tank commander getting a tour of a Panzer from a German tankie.
There’s a lot of narration, all third person and really close, going over this guy’s life. And a long dialogue exchange where Ennis has to go over the history of Israel, the guy’s career and then the current circumstances. Wait, maybe it takes place in the early seventies. I could check, but won’t.
The art, from Tomas Aira, is all right. It’s not great. The characters’ faces lack enough personality and the detail Aira puts into tanks doesn’t go into the people. Of course, Ennis emphasizes the people over the tanks so it doesn’t exactly match.
It’s ambitious, but too soon to really tell.
Children of Israel, Part One: A Stone Off My Heart; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
If Ennis had just started out with the story he finishes telling in this issue, it would have been a much more satisfying story arc. He doesn’t want to seem too sentimental, I guess. But he starts narrating it in the past tense, directly referring to the war being over, so his protagonist clearly makes it.
Only the protagonist isn’t really telling his war story. Ennis has this interesting thing–a war story where the narration doesn’t engage with all the visuals, the protagonist has forgotten the details, they’ve ceased to be the important thing about this period of his life. It could have been an awesome little story.
Instead, Ennis tries to correct it all this issue and he rushes through it and it doesn’t work. It’s well-written, it’s just obvious and desperate.
And Burns’s detail on the war battle can’t make up for his terrible human beings.
Castles in the Sky, Part Three of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
There’s something slightly off about the second issue of War Stories. Keith Burns’s art isn’t great, but it’s all right and Ennis’s script is strong enough to get over any visual bumps. Except the effort Burns puts into the aerial battles–there’s a lot of detail, but there’s no narrative to the illustration. So it contributes to that slightly off vibe, but not entirely.
The real problem is Ennis. He doesn’t actually have a story. He has some great scenes and anecdotes for bomber crews and the protagonist’s relationship with a British widow makes for a good scene, but Ennis doesn’t have a narrative. He’s just stringing these scenes together and hoping the protagonist’s narration will somehow get it through. And it doesn’t. The narration has a couple excellent moments, but they’re jagged too.
It’s not a cohesive issue. It’s a bridging issue in a three issue arc. But good.
Castles in the Sky, Part Two of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
Garth Ennis is back with more war stories–this time appropriately titled War Stories–and he’s off to an excellent start. The first arc of the new series has him covering an American flier in Britain in a bomber; well, the flier doesn’t actually get into a mission yet, with Ennis instead concentrating on his experiences before his first mission.
Then the first mission takes an unexpected turn or two.
Ennis writes in first person from the protagonist, talking about all the things he’s seeing as he journeys across the United States and then to Britain. There’s muted culture shock, there’s character development, there’s attention to detail. It’s excellent writing and Ennis obviously takes it very seriously.
Matt Martin’s art works out too. He has good composition and attention to period detail. Those pluses make up for the occasionally loose physical traits on people. Great tone though.
It’s outstanding stuff.
Castles in the Sky, Part One of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Matt Martin; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Garth Ennis just made me cry.
I’m not sure Red Rover Charlie has the most honest finish, but it has the finish the series needs. Ennis manages to reward the reader–which he definitely should, given the four dollar price tag per issue–and he does it with breaks. There are a whole lot of endings in this issue and Ennis keeps doing them through the rewarding ones to the somewhat profound ones.
There are actually quite a few profound moments in the comic, both about animals, humans, the idea of pets and then the idea of nature itself. It’s actually a rather lovely comic.
All the sentiments are difficult to balance out and it might be where Ennis has the most success. He’s very sure of himself and willing to risk going too far to make it work.
Some very nice art from DiPascale too.
Charlie’s an unexpectedly great series.
The Angel With His Darker Draught; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.
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.
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.