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.

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Rocket Girl 5 (May 2014)

Rocket Girl #5

Rocket Girl ends its first arc with an explosion, not a bang. Meaning, there's an explosion in the issue, but Montclare doesn't do anything too outlandish with the story. He wraps up the cliffhanger from the previous issue, with DaYoung discovering the populace is willing the help her. Reeder does a great eighties shopping scene with it.

Then there's some resolution for the future stuff and the laboratory stuff. Montclare does a big WarGames homage, which doesn't make too much sense since the series isn't set in 1983 and there was cable and VHS so it's not like it'd still be playing in the theater. But, who cares, since Reeder does such a fabulous job with the eighties New York stuff.

As for the arc's finish… it's mellow, thoughtful. There's a nice action scene, but the way DaYoung works things through and her revelations about her situation makes it special.

CREDITS

Time Will Tell; writer, Brandon Montclare; artist, colorist and letterer, Amy Reeder; publisher, Image Comics.

Stray Bullets 28 (December 2002)

Stray Bullets #28

Lapham almost brings it back, he really almost does. The comic’s been missing active intelligence from Beth–and Virginia–for quite a while (seriously, Virginia’s been on her own how long and she couldn’t sniff out a pedophile, especially one who looks like Sideshow Bob) but the end of this issue has Virginia come back. It’s fantastic.

There’s a lot of the interconnected nonsense, with Joey and Rose showing up again and reminding of better days. Especially Rose. She’s been one of Lapham’s better characters and he does write her stuff pretty well here. But Joey? He’s annoying. Again. Lapham beats it in like a hammer–remember him being crazy, here’s why.

Anyway, the ending falls off a bit because Lapham goes too long to bring everything together. It could have been a lot better. But it’s far from bad and closer to good.

Even if the art’s really loose.

B- 

CREDITS

The Prize; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Velvet 5 (May 2014)

Velvet #5

Maybe half the issue is really good background stuff with Velvet’s training after World War II and her mentor. Brubaker’s hostile to the new reader–and even to the regular reader with the bad memory–he doesn’t establish the story in context, he just starts out with his alternating flashbacks.

The training and the mentor is the better stuff because of Velvet’s narration. Brubaker gets in about ten percent history, ten percent character building, eighty percent story. The other stuff, with Velvet’s marriage to a fellow spy, is convoluted and done way too subtly. The comic opens with a Dr. No era James Bond homage, there’s no room for subtlety.

The front-heaviness ends up hurting. It’s just a bridging issue, which Brubaker tries to disguise. There’s some good Epting art and the finish is fine–maybe if Brubaker hadn’t revealed the flashback was all due to a single conversation.

B- 

CREDITS

Before the Living End, Part Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

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