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Issue #40 Release Date: 12/21/11 Vol.#10
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: SAVAGE DRAGON #177
Advance Review: MONOCYTE #2
Advance Review: THE ACTIVITY #1

Advance Review: In stores this week!


Writer/Art: Erik Larsen
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo

Part of me knows I should be, at the very least, mildly concerned at the callous, inappropriate way an actual human is being treated posthumously…but considering the person in question is Osama Bin Laden, I’m finding it VERY difficult to give a grat’s blass. This book was AWESOME. So cheesy, so silver-agey, so much fun!

I haven’t read SD for a lonnnng time. I used to love the book for the first five or so years of its run, but somewhere along the line, I dropped it. Well, not just somewhere--it was at the exact point that The Savage Dragon killed a certain character, thus destroying his own time-line and creating an entirely NEW timeline for his book. I didn’t drop it because of this course of events; in fact, I was really impressed with how ballsy it was to just change everything about his long-running story and, in essence, start from scratch. No, it was his adjustment to how he wrote the book. Larson, from what I could tell, didn’t want to write the sexy, borderline inappropriate book that he had been writing up until that point, and instead wanted to change it to be more of an all-ages book and starting writing in an almost Stan Lee from the 60′s and 70′s style, which just didn’t work for me. I dropped it that very same issue. I just didn’t care anymore. That was my last experience with SD (except for when I went back and re-read all those original stories last year. I got to the same point in the book’s history and gave up. Again.).

But come ON, how do you see the image on the front cover of this issue and not at least flip through it? And flip through it I did. More than that, I read every expository word of this book and loved it.

Larson’s style is MUCH looser than I remember, with more shortcuts than I remember, but it was still basically the same Larson I used to love when I was growing up. The characters have all moved on as well. His son is a teenager, his not-really-daughter-from-another-alternate-reality is a teenager (and has had sex! G-A-S-P!), he’s apparently the leader of a cult of aliens and is out in space leading them to a new planet, or something…and he’s wearing a silly outfit with Magneto’s neckline, a logo from one of the characters of Legion of Superheroes, Captain America’s gloves and random stars for no real reason. What? Why not? And that’s pretty much all we really get of the actual Savage Dragon in this issue.

The rest showcase Dragon’s kids Malcolm and Angel fighting…YUP…the giant green reanimated corpse of Osama Bin Laden as it thwomps and thooms its way through the city. Why is he giant and green? Go with your first guess, it’s probably right. And what does Whitney Houston have to do with his defeat? I don’t want to spoil any more, so you’ll just have to read it.

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD. He is also now co-hosting another Comic Book discussion show on alongside Bohdi Zen. They discuss comics and play music, check it out live every Saturday from 4-5pm.


Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady

Disclaimer: lengthy review…sorry I got a lot to say.

Le sigh…I really wanted to like this book…well, I wanted to love this book, and maybe that’s the problem--maybe I shouldn’t have had super high expectations for this comic. But it IS the golden boy Geoff Johns and Jim “whatever I draw, Kletus will buy” Lee, so why do I feel like this comic isn’t all it could be? I’ve browsed reviews on other sites…{ahem}…inferior sites…and they seem to be heaping praise upon praise for this book and while I don’t hate it, I think it pales in comparison to what I was expecting. Maybe I’m the problem…ha! Yeah right!

My first problem with some of the writing in this book is that it feels like someone who would beat me up in high school wrote quite a few of these scenes. Every issue has to have one of the heroes saying, “What are your powers?!?” then fighting only to realize they should have just tried talking to one another rather than immediately throwing each another through walls. I really don’t have a problem with heroes fighting because fights happen, but it seems so played out--I mean, aren’t these people supposed to be somewhat reasonable adults? I could understand if another superhero ran up on Batman whilst he was choking out a perp to get info, but fighting at the mere sight of another person with powers seems a little over the top.

This again would be more understandable if we were dealing with the Teen Titans, as they are supposed to be irrational, young, and less disciplined. I guess my major gripe with this comic and story is that I expected more than these guys just bumping into each other, fighting, arguing, standing around, then forming the Justice League. Also, with Darkseid showing up now, I kind of feel like this comic is blowing its load a little bit too early…I mean, who is really more deadly and powerful than Darkseid? And this JUSTICE LEAGUE, at this stage, would get their asses handed to them by Darkseid and if that’s what happens I’m all for it but nothing in this JL’s attitude and the way they deal with each other shows me that they could win this fight. Which brings me to another problem: when the city is being attacked by evil otherworldly beings (seems that people in the city are still being attacked by the Parademons in Cyborg’s part of the story), why are the only people that can do something about it standing around conducting a dick measuring contest instead of helping get this mess under control?

I really would have preferred a story where Batman formed the Justice League because he sees a pattern of threats that he can’t handle on his own, so he tracks down the other heroes, discovers their secret identities (thus causing the heroes to fight if it MUST be in there), Batman has a plan, they execute and decide “hey, we work well together—let’s save the world a billion times together.” I realize that just because this is not the story I would have told, that it doesn’t make it a bad story, but I think a flagship title with this level of talent could have come up with a more concise story.

For example, AQUAMAN--a tight story where character’s actions make sense, GREEN LANTERN--a concise, well thought out story, hell I’d almost say it’s better now than it was before the reboot. I know Geoff Johns can do a great job on a team book (JSA!) but this ain’t doing it for me. However, I will continue to read. Why, you say? Jim Mothafuckin’ Lee.

The art in this book is not as good as HUSH or SUPERMAN: FOR TOMORROW but Jim Lee’s been working…slaving…on that damn DC RPG for like 17 (4) years so I don’t expecting him to jump back and immediately be as good as he was but…but…the art is still in the top 5 of DC artists in my opinion. The detail that goes into each page is amazing and while I’m not really digging the story, I think the art is great and enough to keep me invested in this book. I know, I know, you hate the redesigns he did—well, get over it because the costumes (other than Superman’s) are already looking more and more like the old ones so untwist your nuthuggers and marvel in the glory that is Jim Lee. I think most folks either love Jim Lee’s art or hate it, so basically you know what you’re getting into artwise with this book.

I don’t hate this book, I’m not pissed at this book, I don’t think this issue was a slap in the face to every JUSTICE LEAGUE fan out there, I’m just disappointed because I expected to really love every damn issue of this and instead of enjoying the story, I’m finding more and more I don’t like about it. I actually think the Cyborg story is the best part of this book because we are actually learning things about him and he’s really the only one not acting like an idiot...yet. Seriously, though: why…why would Superman and Flash attack the army (maybe Checkmate?) helicopters instead of going after the Parademons that were attacking the city? And why would the helicopters be firing on the only people fighting those Parademons? Doesn’t Checkmate (a somewhat CIA-like agency) know who is wreaking havoc across the city and who isn’t? Ugh…every time I think of certain scenes in this book I get frustrated. Anyway, this issue isn’t the worse thing ever but man it could/should have been A LOT better.


Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Rich Ellis
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: BottleImp

At first glance, MEMORIAL looks to be a doorway to a new and magical fantasy world. We have our protagonist, the amnesiac Miss “M” (or as she’s referred to, “Em”), who knows nothing of her past or identity. We have the antagonists, agents of a mysterious queen who are sent to find a certain mystical artifact. We have the fantasy realm of the Everlands, a landscape seemingly populated by beings from literature and film, myth and legend. We have the kindly old antique shop owner, who is most certainly more than he seems. Oh, and we also have a talking cat. Yes, all the ingredients for a new fantasy classic are definitely present.

Here’s the problem, though. The mere presence of so many borderline-cliché fantasy elements does not make for a whole new fantasy world. Rather, MEMORIAL reads more like a potpourri of snippets from some of the classics of the genre, where each singular element can easily be recognized without ever combining with each other to make a new, cohesive story. Reading this first issue, I found myself being constantly reminded of other stories I’ve read over the years. The inclusion of characters inspired by fantasy classics (Captain Hook and Pinocchio show up as the comic’s heavies) brings to mind Alan Moore’s similar usage of literary characters in his LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN books. The protagonist finding a magical key in an antique shop echoes the finding of the titular book in “The Neverending Story,” while Em’s passage from our world into the fantasy realm recalls C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books (along with the countless fantasy novels those books inspired). The entire structure of this issue matches almost beat-for-beat the beginning of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN story arc “A Game of You,” in which a young woman is drawn back into a fantasy world which she has forgotten—right down to the cutaway scenes of strange and fantastic creatures talking about some plot point which the reader is not yet privy to. And the talking cat (named “Schrodinger,” which I have to admit is a pretty good gag for all the quantum physics nerds) is another cliché that’s been done to death, but reminds me mostly of the cat in “Coraline.”

This preponderance of fantasy tropes might have been palpable if the writing were more clever about it, but as read, this premiere issue of the series relies far too heavily on narrative captions to describe the settings and characters rather than revealing these details through the plot and characters’ actions. I understand that it’s difficult to plop the reader into a brand-new, fantastic setting and make sure that the reader doesn’t get lost, but there are better ways to give information than just stating it in blocks of text. Roberson seems to be another of those writers who needs to get out of the habit of telling and do a little more showing.

Unfortunately, Rich Ellis’ artwork doesn’t do quite enough in terms of visual storytelling to elevate the narrative. His style is kind of a cartoony realism (if that makes any sense), his figures simplified stylistically in the manner of animated cartoons. It makes for appealing character designs that wind up feeling oddly flat; Ellis just doesn’t imbue his drawings with the sense of dynamism in pose or composition that would impart a spark of life, and the end result is limp and lifeless. I would have loved to see this comic either embrace the animation aesthetic fully and deliver a bold visual, or change the art direction entirely to go for a more ethereal and magical tone with the interior artwork—more like the lovely and compelling Mike Kaluta cover, which has nothing in common with Ellis’ interiors in terms of mood or style.

Can a collection of genre clichés rise above being merely the sum of its parts? Is it possible that MEMORIAL will develop and hold its own as a new fantasy tale instead of feeling like a “greatest hits” mix of Narnia, Harry Potter and Fantasia? Frankly, this first issue doesn’t inspire a great deal of hope. But if you’re starved for new fantasy comics, it may be worth your while to check out this series… just in case it grows into something that actually feels new and special.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Dean

This one is really a lot of fun. I haven’t read much of Jason Aaron’s work outside of Scalped, and was incredibly curious to see how he would handle not just a superhero book, but a fairly lighthearted one at that. After three issues of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, it’s becoming pretty clear that Jason Aaron speaks both “mature audiences” and “family friendly” fluently! It can’t be easy to write an X book these days (unless your name is Remender), and more often than not it can be just as challenging to read one. But so far, Aaron’s WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN is proving to be the most refreshing X title out there for long time fans, and a surprisingly accessible jumping on point for new readers.

This issue opens with a short flashback of Wolverine asking Captain America to give Quentin Quire one last chance under his tutelage to become something more. Cap of course agrees, Wolverine and Quentin exchange sarcastic remarks/threats, and we’re thrown back into the action of Krakoa wreaking havoc throughout the school. If the Wolverine and Quentin relationship doesn’t work, this series fails, but Aaron’s handling Quire’s bratty, precocious, snobbery in a thoroughly entertaining way, by essentially making him the Wolverine to Wolverine’s Cyclops. It’s all carefully and cleverly written so that Quire is more annoying to the other characters than he is to readers. Almost everyone is a foil to Quentin Quire in this issue, with every exchange he has highlighting a trait of the character that is either humorous, or at one point, touching. It’s a good sign when I have a hard time picking just one great moment in an issue, but that’s what we have with WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN number 3, so I’m going to break it into two categories: most entertaining moment goes to Quentin’s frustration with his classmates having never heard of him, while most heartfelt goes to his ability to reach, and communicate with Krakoa. This issue had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but Krakoa’s telepathic therapy session and **SPOILER ALERT!** subsequent X-Men alliance made the issue this month’s most uplifting, Christmassy read.

It’s not ALL good in the land of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, however, and I don’t mean the looming threat of Sabretooth. Instead, I’m talking about the artwork of Chris Bachalo, and while it’s hard to blame just him, as there are 9 pencilers, inkers, and colorers on this issue (maybe that’s part of the problem), his name is on the cover. I’ve never been a big fan of Bachalo’s art, but there are times when it certainly works. The character designs in WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN is one of those times, as the style fits the fun atmosphere of the writing. Where things start to fall apart are with the action, and layouts, as quality rapidly deteriorates whenever there’s a lot going on because…well, because there’s a lot going on. I’ve spent far too much time with this series trying to figure out who got hit, with what, and from where, because there’s simply too much crammed into a panel or page making characters and backgrounds sometimes indistinguishable. This issue is better, but only because there’s less physical action than in others, and while it’s certainly nothing to drop the title over, it’s annoying and hinders the overall experience.

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN has me excited for an X-Men title again, and that’s just what I was hoping for with this series. It’s not perfect; I think I’d rather see Bachalo clean it up a bit rather than have a new artist, but the series is still strong despite it. This introduction to the Jason Aaron X-Men is, I think, exactly what the X universe needed: a short, easy to follow, self-contained bit of fun. With a promising cast of new characters being developed, plus lively takes on veteran ones, this is shaping up to be one of the more entertaining titles in the Marvel lineup for what I hope turns out to be a long run.

Advance Review: In stores this week!


Story: Menton3 & Kasra Ghanbari
Art: Menton3
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

When I reviewed the first issue of MONOCYTE, it was full of comparisons to Herbert’s DUNE, Barker’s HELLRAISER, Morrison’s DOOM PATROL, and even Barlowe’s GUIDE TO ALIENS. But the main reason I compared MONOCYTE to those stories was because it shared that original and unique vision so prevalent in those classic tales. It’s that type of totally fresh feel that makes MONOCYTE something to howl about.

Those leery of this book because the first issue was exposition heavy should breathe a sigh of relief with issue two because much by way of action occurs in this book. While the original issue needed to establish the intricate and layered world these gothic and horrific characters inhabit, Menton3 & Ghanbari are able to play around in their sandbox with this issue. This leads to some great interactions and some brutal acts taking place as the Monocyte rips and tears his way though legions of sucker-faced monsters.

Over the last year, Menton3 has become one of the most original artistic forces I’ve seen in comics for quite some time. Though his panels are bleak with heavy blacks, whites, and greys, his characters shine through with anatomically possible, but still grotesquely haunting shapes and forms. Menton digs deep into the blackest of nightmares and pulls out some truly terrifying creatures to inhabit his panels. Each page an exercise in frightening darks, with light tones only revealing true horrors in those shadows.

Filled from cover to cover with content, MONOCYTE #2 has no room for ads and previews. Supported with two short features set in the Monocyte-Universe, Ghanbari and Menton seem to know all of the levels and layers in this twisted world they’ve fleshed out. So far, MONOCYTE has been one of the most unique comic experiences this year, making other comic books seem lesser in comparison in terms of art, writing, bleak tone, and heavy atmosphere.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment. He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and has just released FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) You can order it here! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!

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Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Corey Walker
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

A few weeks ago during the @$$hole Podcast (we’ve still yet to figure out what to name this thing, so any suggestions, send them our way – any suggestions except @$$hole Auto-Play that is) we were trying to convince Ambush Bug what the secret nugget of awesomeness was that has kept the INVINCIBLE train rolling for 86 issues. For me it’s simply the modern-day humanistic look at what a God among men would be like while still tethered to the Clark Kent virus of trying to be a real boy. Johnny Destructo had a soft and special mushy place for the surprises Kirkman has thrown in every two or three arcs, specifically (spoiler alert from 2006) the great surprise, that pivotal issue when Invincible’s father revealed his true purpose for being on Earth was to pave the way for our colonization by the Viltrumites.

While we were both right, we missed the third leg of the stool – progression. It’s easy not to stay trapped in amber when you write a book that only goes on for two years and releases almost quarterly, but as we’ve seen with the big two, rolling out new material while staying true to characterization is a might bit more difficult when you have to carry a book past the decade mark. INVINCIBLE is about to turn nine soon, folks; while not quite a decade, I think we should all take a moment to give Mr. Kirkman his just due for creating a title that has shown constant character progression and perpetually acknowledged that time marches on. Issue 86 is the perfect embodiment of these principles.

Only history will be able to truly tell whether this is the aftermath of the Viltrumite war or a new arc altogether. Kirkman’s books kind of work that way, with his propensity for slow burn payoffs. Like Peter David in X-FACTOR, the lines of different epochs within a title’s life become extremely blurry. These lines of demarcation are easier in WALKING DEAD since they go state-to-state, location-to-location. INVINCIBLE is a different nut, though; its progression is marked more in emotional and life-changing character turning points. Again, issue 86 gives us this, but instead of this being a new epiphany for Mark, bug-brother Oliver now makes a life changing decision that will affect the fate of Earth and perhaps the entire galaxy.

At the “end” of the Viltrumite war, the INVINCIBLE family (another great part about this series, you care just as much about the ancillary players in Invincible’s life as you do Mark himself) was definitely splintered. Alan the Alien, as the new grand poobah of the galaxy, invited Mom and Dad Invincible to come back to the galactic center to spend some of their golden years. Not wanting to be a third wheel in Mark and Eve’s cohabitation, half-brother Oliver decides to join his biological Father and adopted Mother on this sojourn.

All seemed well until Alan got whiff of a truce papa Invincible made with the last few Viltrumites that they could spend the rest of their days on Earth as mild-mannered citizens just as he had done so many years ago. Kirkman equates this treatise to the Nazis spending the rest of their days in South America, leaving President Alan with no other choice but to release a virus in Earth’s atmosphere that will definitely exterminate the Viltrumites. Now, here’s the rub; while the virus will definitely kill the Viltrumites, it could possibly kill every human as well.

Alan takes the side of acceptable loss, while Papa Invincible, Nolan, disagrees vehemently. So we not only get a fisticuff battle in this issue, a bloody and glorious fisticuff, but also an ideological debate not only on acceptable losses, but also on the virtues of mankind.

As I stated earlier, the real surprise in this issue is how Oliver responds to the situation. One would expect a young man to jump to his Father’s aid in such a battle. Kirkman doing what he does best, though, surprises all of us with Oliver not giving a flying fig about humanity and actually aiding Alan in subduing Nolan and heading off to Earth to do likewise with Mark. There were some great and poignant space telepathy bubbles in these pages that truly make you wonder whether we actually are worth saving.

I’ve lamented several times in this column that the issues after the remaining Viltrumites were stranded on earth felt a little strained and more than a little slow--many issues of Mark and Eve pondering the future of their relationship and discussing Eve’s new found love of carbs. These issues weren’t bad; they were just too much of a talky dichotomy to the splendorous action that occurred the seven or eight months prior. Now it seems, though, that there is a major conflict brewing once again to interrupt Mark’s domestic bliss and will once again pit him against a member of his own family.

If you’ve been away from the INVINCIBLE fold, this is a perfect issue to bring yourself back into the fray. If you’ve never read INVINCIBLE before, this is not the issue to start; there is far too much history at play here for you to truly “get it.” As a long time fan, I have a bright and shiny hopes for a truly dystopian tomorrow.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


Writers: Patric M. Verrone, Evan Dorkin, Ian Boothby
Artists: Hilary Barta, Evan Dorkin, James Llyod
Publisher: Bongo Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady

“We wanted to do Swan Lake but couldn’t afford the rights, so we’re doing Goose Lake!”

I’m pretty sure almost everyone on this site is familiar with and probably likes the Simpsons to some degree. However, most people like me overlook this comic thinking there is no way they could recreate the magic in comic book form. Well, I was wrong; this comic may not be a good as the cartoon, but it was one of the funniest comics I’ve read in a long time (sorry, DEADPOOL). What got me to pick this comic up and read through it (I usually just flip to a few pages, chuckle, and put it in the box destined for the local public library) was that one of the three stories had a USUAL SUSPECTS theme with Abe Simpson and a cameo from Sergio Aragones (currently doing a comic, also out on BONGO, called FUNNIES…also pretty good). I was immediately hooked and I’m glad I sat down and read this issue. Much of the humor is retained from the show and I think this book benefits from being able to tell shorter weirder stories than the cartoon would allow (although there are some episodes that are pretty out there). An interesting aside about this comic is that Sergio Aragones was asked to draw a random cover featuring the Simpsons characters and each writer (three) was shown the cover and asked to write stories based on the cover. The result is actually pretty cool, with each story being somewhat connected to this odd cover. This is a pretty interesting idea that works really well for this issue.

The art is…well…exactly the same as the cartoon; maybe somewhere there really is a bomb shelter with a sweat shop in the basement (like the ‘controversial’ Banksy intro) and Matt Groening is pruning new Simpsons artists, so that even after the disastrous world ending prophecies of 2012 actually happen this time, the SIMPSONS will still be able to be produced and watched by all the irradiated mutated (but no cool powers) masses that roam the earth searching for entertainment and are sick of Tina Turner’s stupid Thunderdome…hmm…where was I?

Oh, yeah--this comic is funny as hell, the art is great and I highly recommend picking up this issue whether you’re a Simpsons fan or not. iI you fall in the ‘or not’ group, I am suspicious of you and would not trust you around my pets.


Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel MAX
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Homeward Bound…

With PUNISHER MAX, Jason Aaron may have written one of the most engaging takes on Frank Castle's crusade ever. Never before (even, I'd argue, more so than Garth Ennis's stellar run) has the war felt so real, so personable, and so horrifying. With each issue, the arc has become more and more devastating, and with its forthcoming ending, the series reaches a new zenith; this is one of the best Punisher stories I've ever read, and Aaron, Dillion, and Hollingsworth deserve every accolade they can receive.

The penultimate issue in the run flits back and forth from the past to various moments in Frank's life to the present, where he engages Elektra in a grisly brawl. The brief glimpses into the past are all extremely well done, alternating between a young Frank (learning to shoot, and maybe the happiest I've seen The Punisher in a long time) and times with his own son, already affected by Vietnam and colder. These scenes serve as a perfect backdrop for the ending of the series, tying everything together; Frank must return to his beginning before the end, and the comic beautifully follows that. Everything from this run seems to play a role, at the very least within Frank’s head, and it's been fantastic to watch unfold.

The fight proper is brutal, but in a completely different way than the Bullseye fight from previous in the series. Frank's ferocity is brutal, and it's only when the Punisher lets loose and goes almost feral he is able to strike back. It runs with the thread of Frank's innate nature from earlier in the series, and feels right at home here. The fight is fast and entertaining. It shows Elektra's finesse surpassing Frank's strategy, forcing him to fall back on sheer power/mad tactics. Following that comes a brief confrontation between Fisk and Castle, setting the stage for the finale. It's expertly written, never feeling cliche', despite the obviousness of the reveal. It's a testament to Aaron's writing that it flows this well.

Art: (5/5) Dillon and Hollingsworth are tremendous throughout this entire series, but this issue might be their best. Dillon communicates so much through simple facial cues, in a way that other artists could only envy. The opening page, showing Frank killing his first man in Vietnam, is one of the most interesting pages I've read in some time; In the first panel, he appears surprised, almost childlike with big front teeth and wide eyes. When we see his face again, it's hardened slightly, not only in expression, but in sheer appearance. He seems older, harder. The third panel, showing his face from farther away, appears almost as stone; it's a young man's face, but clearly the gaze of someone else. This kind of skill is evident throughout the rest of the book, with each panel looking amazing in its own way. And that goes double for the brawl between Frank and Elektra; every punch, every stab and shot feels intrinsically real. The sheer brutality of it is tremendous.

Assisting all of this is the colouring from Hollingsworth. The use of shadows is remarkable, concealing all but what is absolutely necessary. The most noteworthy aspect, though, holds to the way Hollingsworth shows Frank's memories. Each one is placed in its own hue, bright and vivid such as when his family dies, or muted and quiet during a short talk with his son.

Best Moment: "July 17th, 1969. The First Time I Shot A Man."

Worst Moment: I got nothing.

Overall: (5/5) I'm not the biggest Punisher fan; I usually find him a bland character whose stories make light of murder and have you rooting for a despicable person. But this entire run has done something miraculous and turned him not into a bold, heroic character, but an almost pitiful shell of a man. It’s a fascinating read, and one of the best runs I've read in some time.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Art: Mitch Gerads
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo

Wow. Talk about a slow burn. Maybe I missed something here, but isn’t something supposed to HAPPEN in the first issue of a new series? Don’t get me wrong, the pages weren’t blank or anything. There were words and illustrations and the introduction of the team, but…where’s the rest? Something to make readers want to come back? I know they give Brian Michael Bendis a hard time for “writing for the trade”, but each of his issues have something, some development or hook to keep the reader involved at least long enough to want the next issue. This one…doesn’t.

Ok, so here’s the scoop. We see the team kidnap a fella and hand him off to some people in Mexico. Why? Don’t ask me, I can’t read Spanish. We do find out that the team “are the problem solvers”. We find out that the aforementioned solvers of aforementioned problems recently lost a team member, and that they are getting a new member. We also see her being recruited and going out on their next job with them. She does well and gets approved and is awarded a codename. Weatherman, Bookstore, Speakeasy, Switchfoot and Fiddler. It was interesting to see how they accomplish their assigned goal and to see the tech used and the techniques put into play…but is that all there is to get out of this book?

I kept waiting for the shady business to go down--some hint that maybe the dead member died mysteriously, or that the new addition to the team is infiltrating the team for some secret reason, or that someone is corrupt. There is no hint towards any of these things. It all goes down smoothly, everyone gets along, the job gets done...and then it’s over.The design of the book is interesting, and the artwork is strong enough (sometimes peoples’ eyes don’t really line up) but overall it works. And like I said, it was interesting in a purely procedural way, but daddy needs some DRAMA to keep coming back to a comic. Daddy also needs to stop referring to himself as daddy, cause it’s wicked creepy. Despite just this very second saying that I need drama to come back to a series, I AM going to check out issue two because I’m so very curious to see if anything happens in the second issue. Surely SOMEthing must…I just wonder what.


Ambush Bug here. The below hour-long conversation took place between myself, Matt Adler, Optimous Douche, KletusCasady, and our host Johnny Destructo of as we talked about general jack@$$$ery and quite a few comics this week!

Looks for more of the Holes rambling about comics on Poptards in future AICN COMICS columns!

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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