Punisher: Soviet #1 (of 6)
This is a pick that, on the surface, was incredibly easy to make. After all it’s Garth Ennis writing “The Punisher” again with his “Crossed” and “303” collaborator Jacen Burrows. It even has a premise that makes it sound like it’ll fit right in alongside the other “Punisher MAX” stories the writer has done. It involves lots of dead Russian mobsters. Only the catch is that Frank Castle didn’t kill any of them. Someone out there is taking a page from his playbook and things are going to be bad for everyone once the Punisher catches up with whoever did this.
While “Punisher: The Platoon” was amazing, I didn’t think we’d be seeing Ennis return to the character again so soon. In fact, he even has another “Punisher” miniseries lined up with artist Goran Parlov, “Get Fury” for sometime next year? Getting one new Ennis-written “Punisher” miniseries is cause for celebration. Getting two makes me think that something’s up.
Now, while the writer has always been one of my favorites, even I have to admit that his non-Castle-centric output of late hasn’t been that great. The “Section Eight” minis at DC had him retelling the same tired anti-superhero jokes, “Dastardly and Muttley” wasn’t much better, “Jimmy’s Bastards” was maybe a little better than the lame James Bond parody it presented it as, and there’s always hope that “A Walk Through Hell” could turn out to be great when its second half is collected.
What I’m getting at here is that Ennis’ return to “The Punisher” feels like an act of necessity rather than triumph. There’s no other character at DC I can see him having the stomach to write (though I could be wrong) and with his latest creator-owned efforts fizzling giving the adventures of Frank Castle another go seems like the only way for him to raise his profile and get some other projects off the ground. This sounds like backwards logic for a creator who currently has TWO TV series based on comics he’s written -- “Preacher” and “The Boys” -- airing right now, but that appears to be the world we live in at the moment.
The upside here that Ennis isn’t the kind of creator who’s simply going to repeat himself on this kind of project. He may have written a lot of “Punisher” stories over the years, but each of them is distinct in its own way. So even if he isn’t coming back to the character in triumph, I don’t think he’s here to play the hits. Which is exactly what we should all be wanting.
New Mutants #’s 1&2: If you’re interested in the new “X-Men” relaunch, then you’re obviously going to be reading adjectiveless “X-Men.” If you were planning on reading a second one, then you should probably invest in “New Mutants.” Not because it’s getting the old team of Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Mirage, Karma, Magic, and Cypher (plus “Generation X” vets Chamber and Mondo) together. But because Jonathan Hickman is co-writing the series, or maybe just the first arc, with Ed Brisson. So that means this series is going to be more key to his plans than the others. I’m also hoping that since Hickman was the one who gave us smooth corporate mastermind Sunspot in the pages of “Avengers” he’ll have Roberto getting his groove back here.
Annihilation: Scourge Alpha #1: “Absolute Carnage” wraps up this month and without missing a beat Marvel gears up for its next event. Matthew Rosenberg writes, Juanan Ramirez draws this one shot which features Nova assembling a team to look into a growing threat in the Negative Zone. Still, this is odd since Marvel has also released a teaser called “Incoming” which has everyone thinking that Hulkling will play a major part in whatever event is coming next. Except they didn’t say it was “Annihilation” related. It could still be, but right now the hype feels like it’s working at cross purposes.
2099 Alpha #1: Oh, and just in case you had time and money to spare between the two events I just mentioned, Marvel has a THIRD one for November spinning out of the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man.” It’s the return of Marvel’s “2099 Universe” with the Spider-Man of that era playing a role in the main Nick Spencer-written story. Spidey 2099 is getting his own one-shot for this event, of course, along with Punisher, Doom, Venom, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, and… Conan? Apparently this Gerry Duggan-written one-shot is going to explore the consequences of what will happen to the Barbarian when he decides to stay in the Marvel Universe. Okay, fine. This is still way too much event for one company to put out in a single month and I’ll be awaiting the numbers in December to find out which one of these inevitably crashes and burns.
Deadpool #1: Kelly Thompson and Chris Bachalo tackle the Merc With a Mouth. I wish them the best -- Thompson in particular. I’m hoping this is an “Immortal Hulk” level success for her so that the next offbeat series she writes goes on to last longer than 10-12 issues.
Fantastic Four: Negative Zone #1: Boy did someone pick the wrong month to release a random FF one-shot I’m also at a loss as to figuring out why it’s being released in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see Mike Carey back at Marvel and I’m curious to see what he does with the Fantastic Four after having tackled their “Ultimate” incarnation a while back. Stefano Caselli provides the art for this story so someone at editorial clearly believes in it. Oh, and there’s a backup from Ryan North and Steve Uy about the fantastic faux known as the Fantastix. The level of talent involved in this one-shot suggests that it’ll be good read. Assuming people remember that it’s coming out and can find it when it does.
Star Wars #75: The final issue of Marvel’s longest-running, non-renumbered series. Hopefully writer Greg Pak and artist Phil Noto took on the job of writing this series knowing that it would end at #75. Either way, don’t expect this series to stay down for long. There’s a new movie coming out the month after this issue hits stands. Some are expecting that it’ll move on to chronicling the period between “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” I don’t think that’ll happen because that would mean doing a “Star Wars” series without Han Solo. No, either we’ll get a new “Star Wars” #1 in December to carry on business as usual or the first issue of a series that chronicles what Han, Luke, and Leia were up to in the wake of “Return of the Jedi.” Maybe it’ll even have Pak and Noto back as the creative team. I’m sure they’d appreciate that.
House of X/Powers of X HC: Podcast about this when I get my hands on it in December.
Marvel Comics #1000 HC: Sure, the idea of lots of different creators doing one-page stories about whatever Marvel-related thing they want sounds cute. That Al Ewing is behind this and is doing multiple one-page stories to tie the gimmick together is good. Is it enough to get me to pick up the oversized hardcover edition of this 128-page collection? NOPE! If I’m going to get this at all, it’ll be in softcover. Or maybe next year at WonderCon when I’ll likely be able to find both issues for less than the price of the softcover.
Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender Omnibus: Here’s another one for the, “If you haven’t bought it by now…” selection.
Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition: This collects the new miniseries from Donny Cates and Tradd Moore in an oversized 9x13 edition. Normally I’d file this under the same “Wait for a normal-sized edition” mindset I have for that “Marvel Comics #1000 HC”... Buuuuuuuuut part of me can’t help wondering if it might be worth picking up this edition just to appreciate Moore’s artwork. I mean, when he lets loose -- as he did in the “Luther Strode” series -- the results are truly something to see. The jury’s still out on picking up this edition, is what I’m saying.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra vol. 6 -- Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon: After managing to not die at the end of the previous storyline, Chelli Aphra has decided to get back to basics. That would be investigating/pillaging/robbing old ruins for fun and profit (and knowledge too, I think). Problem is that there are a lot of people out there who want a piece of her, including some Rebels she stiffed with some encrypted data back in vol. 3. Good thing the head of the Empire’s propaganda department has her eye on Aphra. I’m sure she’ll help the archeologist out with no strings attached. Right?