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.
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.
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.
Before Man Was, War Waited; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
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.
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.
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.
The Sunny Slopes of Long Ago; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
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.
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.
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.
The Judgment of Your Peers; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
Ennis jumps ahead nine years to Vietnam. Nick’s sidekick is all of a sudden out of joint about the events in the last issue–a rare misstep from Ennis in this series–so Frank Castle comes in.
Much like Nick, Ennis is just using Frank to exploit a brand. He hasn’t done anything Punisher-like to make his identity essential. He’s just a good sniper and Nick’s just a good spy who’s having an affair with a senator’s wife.
Ennis has had to remold the Nick Fury character for this series. Gone is all the flash to make him memorable; Ennis goes with the patch, the cigar, some of the history and the personality. But he’s now got a character who isn’t going to exist beyond this series (presumably), which makes it a little hard to care about him.
I suppose the brand makes up the difference.
As usual, excellent.
Mister Chained Blue Lightning; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
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.
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.
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.
Get Ready to Shed a Tear; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Number One Fucky; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Sebastian Girner and Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
Fury MAX gives Garth Ennis the opportunity to do one of his favorite things–historical war stories–with one of the things he does really well, world-weary protagonists. Well, I suppose he takes the opportunity to use the series to do those things, not so much it gives him the chance.
This first issue is set in Indochina in the mid-fifties, while America’s involvement in Vietnam is just to monitor the French’s progress.
Ennis gives Fury a mismatched sidekick, he introduces a knowing dame–Ennis and artist Goran Parlov don’t turn the espionage genre on its head, they just tilt it quite a bit–and some hints at the supporting cast.
Reading Fury isn’t so much to see what happens next–he’s narrating from present day, so he lives and the reader hopefully knows how Vietnam turned out–but enjoying Ennis’s excellent storytelling abilities.
He’s in his element.
While All the Planet’s Little Wars Start Joining Hands; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Sebastian Girner and Nick Lowe; publisher, MAX.
Well, there’s the finish.
Morgan leaves it unsatisfactory—some of it—on purpose, but I wonder if he also needed a little more space. The issue ends with a tag announcing the sequel series, almost as though they knew they needed to promise more story….
There’s a somewhat lengthy fight scene this issue. It’s got some good moments (the fight scene), but it doesn’t have very much dramatic weight. It’s like Morgan thought of it in an outline and didn’t realize Sienkiewicz doing a blow-by-blow on the deck of a yacht would get boring.
Maybe it was Parlov’s fault.
Otherwise, it’s a really good issue. Morgan gets a lot in with the cast he’s established; his characterization of Natasha is exceptional. Usually male writers do something awful when writing female protagonists, but Morgan knows when to stop and knows how to sell it.
This one’s a great series.
Now That’s What I Call a Woman (Reprise); writer, Richard K. Morgan; pencillers, Goran Parlov and Bill Sienkiewicz; inker, Sienkiewicz; colorist, Dan Brown; letterer, Cory Petit; editor, Jennifer Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.