Fury: My War Gone By 13 (August 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 12 (July 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 11 (June 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 10 (May 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 9 (April 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 8 (March 2013)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 7 (February 2013)

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,…

Fury: My War Gone By 6 (November 2012)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 5 (October 2012)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 4 (September 2012)

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.…

Fury: My War Gone By 3 (August 2012)

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.…

Fury: My War Gone By 2 (July 2012)

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…

Fury: My War Gone By 1 (July 2012)

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…

Black Widow 6 (April 2005)

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…

Black Widow 5 (March 2005)

Wow, what a downer. Morgan gives the issue, for its soft cliffhanger, an extremely depressing turn of events. Not the one I was worried about, but one I dislike maybe even worse. It comes after the big revelation issue. I mean, there’s some bridging stuff at the beginning, but most of the issue is spent with Natasha learning all about the Black Widow program and what it’s done to her. Morgan does it in story, which really helps keep it fresh. There’s a lot of talking heads this issue; it’s strange to see Sienkiewicz do the conversation scenes is a little strange,…

Black Widow 4 (February 2005)

So, for the first issue of the second half, Morgan’s changing it up again. He’s got Natasha in Russia, where she uncovers her past. It’s not the past she thought—I’m not even sure if it’s in continuity anymore—and the way Morgan does it makes the entire series feel like the first Black Widow comic ever. Even though she mentions the second Black Widow from the last series… everything old is new again. Meanwhile, Morgan gets in the comic relief with Natasha’s friends back in the States (he’s joking about it going bad) and develops the villains. He implies a whole new reveal…

Black Widow 3 (January 2005)

Morgan quickly makes up for any deficiencies in the last issue. It’s almost like he realized it, because this issue establishes Black Widow as being about gender issues. It turns out the bad guys are this freaky pharmaceutical company (probably using mutant gene in their face cream) and Natasha finding out about it. Along the way, there’s more with her sidekick and their youthful charge (they rescued a teenage girl from some rednecks first issue). Unfortunately, there’s the implication the sidekick might be a problem later on. But for now, it’s an awesome dynamic. It brings humor to the comic, something it…

Black Widow 2 (December 2004)

With Parlov taking over the layouts, all of a sudden it reminds me of Ennis. Well, not really. Morgan does a fine job with Natasha—his brief first person narration works, instead of the usual, lengthy nonsense male writers do when writing first person narration for female characters—but the only other female character in the issue is so bad Jeph Loeb could’ve written her. Some evil spy lady is—shocker, a lesbian—and violently lusting after a waitress. It’s like Ennis done bad. Otherwise, the issue is good. It’s not as strong as the first issue because there’s not as much going on. None of…