The Jetsons 1 (January 2018)

The Jetsons #1

The Jetsons is really serious. It’s about a damaged Earth about to be struck with another disaster. There’s only so much time left with your kids. Hug them.

I’m not sure why writer Jimmy Palmiotti thinks anyone is going to care–past not wanting to see the Earth blow up or whatever (I’ll admit, it’s a weird sensation)–because his revision of “The Jetsons” cast sure isn’t going to get much sympathy.

Dad George Jetson looks about sixteen. Artist Pier Brito isn’t ready for a mainstream comic. His scenery is fine. His people are not. Past George looking like a kid, his part is to be freaked out his mom euthanized herself to become the family’s robot maid.

Wife Jane is an important scientist who knows the world is going to end soon. Or might end soon. Brito can’t keep a constant set of features for her. It’s like he can’t be bothered with facial details, much less expressions.

Daughter Judy has nothing to do. Except look younger than her dad. Jane doesn’t get the youthful appearance, at least nothing like George does.

Son Elroy is at that awkward age where he doesn’t like girls yet (but they like him) and he’s just trying to impress his dad. Who looks like his little brother. And has no scenes with him.

The script’s mediocre, the dialogue’s not even mediocre (Palmiotti can’t seem to figure out how to have George talk), the art’s disappointing.

We’ve met George Jetson. No more please.

CREDITS

Meet the Jetsons; writer, Jimmy Palmiotti; artist, Pier Brito; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Diego Lopez, Brittany Holzherr, and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

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Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special (May 2017)

Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special

Booster Gold meets The Flintstones. Then there’s a Jetsons backup. Both are fairly rank, though Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti try to infuse Jetsons with the political subtext Mark Russell usually brings to Flintstones. He doesn’t in the feature though. He just has Booster Gold be an idiot because Booster Gold is an idiot. It’s sort of the comic one would’ve expected from a Hanna-Barbera imprint at DC… unlike the actual Russell Flintstones comic.

Nice enough art on the feature from Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna. Pier Brito’s Jetsons art isn’t ready for primetime.

CREDITS

Booster Trouble; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Steve Buccellato; letterer, Dave Sharpe. Eternal Upgrade; writers, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti; artist, Pier Brito; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Michael Heisler. Editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 5 (February 2015)

Star Spangled War Stories #5

Lovable. Star-Spangled War Stories and G.I. Zombie are lovable. I’m not sure if it’s what Gray and Palmiotti intend–I assume so, since they go out of their way to make the comic read like a familiar, pleasantly inventive amusement. It’s the genial procedural of comic books.

None of the details really matter–it doesn’t matter that G.I. Zombie works for the feds and isn’t a private eye–because Gray and Palmiotti just have to string together the little scenes. The great moments of the comic where the benefit of an undead hero comes in handy. There’s even time for him to catch up with an old–human–friend this issue.

It’s awesome, start to finish. Gray and Palmiotti have found something special with this approach, because it’s not a horror comic and it’s not an action comic, but it borrows from both.

And Hampton’s art looks absolutely fantastic.

A 

CREDITS

Door-To-Door Delivery; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 4 (January 2015)

Star Spangled War Stories #4

Okay, so G.I. Zombie is kind of lame when he’s on his own. Not the comic, but the character. When he’s running around this issue, talking to himself, it’s really lame. If Gray and Palmiotti want to have some reason he speaks to himself in expository dialogue, they should introduce it. His origin is still in question… if he’s a motormouth, so be it. But establish it.

Otherwise, not much happens in the issue. The army shows up and the zombie crisis gets contained to some degree. The better stuff is with G.I. Zombie’s partner, Carmen. She’s got the flashback at the beginning of the issue, she’s the one who gets to find the domestic terrorists’ amazing Bond villain base.

There are some decent moments with G.I. Zombie, but the writers put too much emphasis on his lame dialogue and not enough on his experiences in the issue.

It’s annoying.

B- 

CREDITS

Exit Strategy; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 3 (December 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #3

I still don’t know why I like Star Spangled War Stories so much. Maybe it’s because of Gray and Palmiotti’s pace. This comic–featuring the cast of “Duck Dynasty” unleashing a zombie plague on the United States (the rural United States)–moves at a breakneck pace. About the only time it calms down for a moment is when G.I. Zombie’s partner, whose name I don’t remember, stops at a diner and there’s character development between her and a domestic terrorist whose organization she’s infiltrated.

Otherwise, it’s all action. Only it’s G.I. Zombie running through this small town, trying to help people–Gray and Palmiotti establish the characters and settings quickly (sometimes during action sequences) but they still stick.

It’s kind of like a monster movie from the fifties, only with a lot of action and some very modern sensibilities.

Plus, the strangeness of Hampton doing big action still works wonders.

B+ 

CREDITS

Small Town Welcome; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Wool 6 (August 2014)

Wool #6

The last issue reveals Wool doesn’t just have a pacing problem or a perspective problem, it has a scale problem. Palmiotti and Gray never make the silo society seem real enough. They never show the silo in a way to make one believe anyone besides the cast lives there.

It’s not imaginative enough in how they’re adapting the comic. Sure, Broxton’s art is a little claustrophobic, but there’s no opportunity for it to be anything else.

Without a sense of the society, the writers don’t give the characters a setting, so their implied back stories and histories have less–or no–resonance. It hurts the comic immensely and could have been easily fixed.

It’s a fairly good final issue. The tension is honest, the plot twists are not. They never get enough time, but Gray, Palmiotti and Braxton are all professionals. Wool ends competently, but without anything special about it.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Wool 5 (July 2014)

Wool #5

Wool is a frustrating comic. Presumably to stick with the narrative structure of the source novel, Gray and Palmiotti constantly waste time and pass up opportunities for a better structure.

This issue has protagonist Jules on a mission where she’s diving (in her environment suit) to the bottom of the silo. It’s flooded. It could be a great sequence, but it’s actually a waste of time because all it does is introduce a second sidekick for her. It doesn’t need the emphasis if all it’s going to do is bring in another character.

Or they could have used it as a framing device for the issue. But no.

Then the comic cliffhangs with her previous sidekick, now working for the evil information technologies department, chatting with her on the radio. Yet another possible wonder framing device for the whole series.

It’s got its plusses, but Wool is way too loose.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Wool 4 (July 2014)

Wool #4

The issue starts with the protagonist narrating. The fourth issue and Gray and Palmiotti have finally settled on having the protagonist. And on having her narrate. Only she doesn’t narrate for long and the focus soon shifts back to the subplots.

The sheriff–I can’t believe it, I remember her name is Jules–is in another silo and her world view is being broken. Luckily there’s some guy in the other silo who’s been there for thirty-four years alone and he’s rational enough to explain everything to her.

Meanwhile, the regular silo and the somewhat familiar supporting cast–lots of supporting cast members have died off in Wool and it’s hard to bother getting too involved with the new ones–are planning a revolt. Perhaps it will succeed. Perhaps it will fail. It’s hard to actually care.

It’s a good issue, but Wool’s too insubstantially constructed to succeed.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Wool 3 (July 2014)

Wool #3

It’s almost like Wool, the comic book, is meant to inspire the reader to instead go read Wool, the novel, in order to understand the character motivations. Because Gray and Palmiotti try for intense scenes, montage sequences, all sorts of things they can’t get done because they haven’t set up the characters well.

The villain is one dimensional. Even when his big secret gets revealed, it doesn’t offer him any depth because it’s a predictable big secret. As for the protagonist, the issue removes her agency–again–and sort of soft resets with the cliffhanger (and the big reveal).

Broxton’s art helps a lot–he does post-apocalyptic really well and he can pace out the scenes visually–and Wool does configure its derivative and familiar details in a reasonable order… but the series is now half over and there’s not much going on outside sci-fi standards.

But prettily.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Wool 2 (June 2014)

Wool #2

It can’t really be so obvious, can it? So much of Wool’s cast not seeming to be able to see what’s going on has to do with them being simple silo folk, used to living a certain way and absolutely unable to see the obvious. Like poisoned water.

Even though Broxton does a great job with all the content he’s got to fit into the issue… It doesn’t come off. Palmiotti and Gray aren’t just doing a packed issue, they’re doing a packed issue without thinking about it like an issue. This issue needs to introduce the new sheriff. They don’t structure it for that purpose. They keep the main story going and just through her into it.

It doesn’t work. There’s not enough character development given the series has a new protagonist. And the supporting cast is so jumbled they just appear.

It’s still interesting, just poorly executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Wool 1 (June 2014)

Wool #1

Wool opens with one protagonist, then moves on to another, then promises a third. It’s a novel adaptation, which might have handled the transitions smoother, but writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are a tad abrupt. They do well establishing the setting–a post-apocalyptic future where everyone lives in a huge silo underground and can’t go outside–but the characters and their relationships are confusing.

They don’t, for example, explain how people communicate with one another in the silo. It’s vaguely manipulative writing, intended to create drama instead of be reasonable.

Most of the issue follows the mayor and a sheriff’s deputy on their way to hire a new sheriff (the original protagonist being the previous sheriff). Gray and Palmiotti do a decent job establishing the mayor character, but at the end it’s unclear if she was worth the investment.

It definitely engages and Jimmy Broxton’s art is fantastic.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End 1 (November 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End #1

I’m a little shocked, though maybe I shouldn’t be. For their “Futures End” tie-in with G.I. Zombie, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tell the last G.I. Zombie story. Maybe all the “Futures End” are the last issues in imaginarily long series (I don’t think I’ll find out). But what they do here works out.

They’ve got their butt-kicking protagonist, G.I. Zombie, who doesn’t just fist fight or monster fight, he also gets in an old crop duster and has an air battle too. It’s a lot for artist Scott Hampton and the art is fantastic. There’s a lot going on; Hampton excels at it.

But there’s also the sidekick and the nemesis, not to mention the end of the world. It actually would have worked better as a first issue than the third of Gray, Palmiotti and Hampton’s Star Spangled War Stories but whatever… it’s absolutely great comics.

A 

CREDITS

United States of the Dead; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 2 (October 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #2

G.I. Zombie likes to talk to himself. A lot. He and his partner spend the issue working on separate parts of the same mission; she gets to talk to the bad guys, he gets to kill them and talk to himself. A lot.

It doesn’t make much sense, since Palmiotti and Gray open the issue with G.I. Zombie narrating it. Why change from perfectly reasonable narration to the guy talking to himself while on his stealth mission? No idea. It doesn’t make sense.

The big finish is similarly confusing. Palmiotti and Gray do pace the issue rather well. Although it takes place over an hour or so, it’s a very busy hour and there are a handful of nods towards character development. But the ending is a mess. It’s too fast and too slight.

Also a problem is Hampton’s art. He maintains the cool style, but he’s slacking in detail.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories 1 (September 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #1

Star Spangled War Stories. G.I. Zombie. Neither of those titles suggest the comic is going to open in the present day, set in Louisiana, but writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray don’t do anything predictable in this first issue. Not the first twist, not G.I. Zombie, not the cliffhanger. Not the zombie scene.

It’s highly inventive stuff, with Palmiotti and Gray changing genres from military to federal agent procedural. Zombie’s setup–a female federal agent and her new partner, the only zombie in the world–is ready for a television pilot next season but that commercial appeal doesn’t hinder the issue at all. Having Scott Hampton on the art helps immeasurably; Hampton does a focus thing with the art. The backgrounds feel painted and distant, the characters sort of move on top of it. It’s an excellent effect.

There are some third act pacing problems, but it’s off to a strong start.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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.

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