Thursday, 18 June 2009

Only A Mother Could Love: Marvel Knights - Punisher #4

First up I must apologise for neglecting my loyal readers. I have been M.I.A. from the land of blog for the past few weeks. The evil bosses at my real world job had me buried under a mountain of crappy work. Don't worry though nothing can keep me from yakking on about comics for long.

What better way to launch my triumphant comeback than by yakking about comics that only a mother could love? The concluding part of our look at the Saga of the Undead Punisher no less(that's Marvel Knights: Punisher #4 to any laymen out there).

Be warned though, I am about to spoilt the ending here. Of course I've spoiled parts one, two and three already so it's hardly surprising is it?

When last we checked in on Undead Frank he and his new best buddy, the private-school-boy-looking angel Gadriel, were at the mercy of series bad guy and KFC bargain bucket refugee Oliver. In fact that is the way things remain for the bulk of this issue! Frank and Gadriel stay trussed up and hanging from the rafters while Olly gets his super-villain on. I'm not kidding he bangs on and on for page after page about how great he is, how no-one can stop him and how generally awesome his master plan is!

In his defence though, his plan is pretty freaking awesome. I mean it's got everything a hell-spawned master plan should have. It's got suicides inducing imps, violent goons, picnic invasions - it's even got dudes eating their own skin!!
What do you know? Tastes like chicken.

All joking aside, I found Oliver's Batman TV show style monologue the most enjoyable part of this issue. It's got beautifully rendered flashbacks which tie up all of the dangling loose ends in a nice neat little bow.

We are finally treated to the stirring tale of Oliver's origin. We learn about his humble beginnings back in hell as an ambitious C-list demon entity. He tells us how hell's jealous A-listers took exception to him, booting him out for no good reason...well okay maybe it was for trying to kill them and conquer their realms all those times - big whoop! Doesn't mean they're not still jerks.

We get the lowdown on the O-man's exile to earth, shoe-horned into the body of a stillborn baby. That decision was sadly lacking in the acute foresight and meticulous planning those types of demonic bigwigs are normally known for as the baby in question grows up to be blood thirsty mob boss and Mick Fleetwood look-a-like Frank Costa.

It's Costa's mob connections, his knowledge of magical, demonic jiggery pokery and a brutal massacre at an idyllic picnic that allows Oliver to forge his human engine of destruction and renew his attempts to conquer hell. Of course the problem with forging human engines of destruction, especially bad tempered ones with a penchant for big guns, is that once they're done cutting a swath of destruction through your criminal empire - they generally come a-looking for you.
Avon Calling.

Turns out that this door kicking and bullet riddling that follows is just the masterstroke of Olly's big plan. Death simply frees him from his past-it's-prime, hippie drummer shaped prison and send him straight back to hell where he merrily returns to his old skin-eating, realm conquering ways.

Unfortunately just as the big O's tale is hitting it's stride Frank gets all pissed, breaks loose, pulls out his mystical uzis and all the promise of this last issue descends into a dodgy pastiche of Evil Dead 2.

Heavily armed, somewhat crazy protagonist - check.

Unstoppable demonic bad guys - check.

Accidental giant vortex which sucks everybody except our hero back to hell - check.

Now don't get me wrong I'm as big a Sam Raimi fan as the next guy but it doesn't have the laughing deer head, the evil, severed hand, the obligatory spade be-heading - hell there's not one chainsaw prosthetic in sight. Without those things and Bruce Campbell talking about his boomstick it's just your average mediocre 'deux ex machina' ending.
Klaatu Barradda Nikto

The slightly dissapointing ending didn't mar my enjoyment of the book too much though. Plot-wise Golden and Sniegoski's conclusion may have been a bit of a letdown but when it comes to cranking out awesome visuals for Bernie Wrightson and Jimmy Palmotti to bring to glorious, shining life they are on fire.

The gorgeous flashback scenes aside this issue is as packed with fantastic panels as issue three was. I mean there's even a shot of Frank getting tore into the bad guys with a mystical version of 'Ol Painless' from the first Predator movie.
I Ain't Got Time To Bleed

You know you've invested your money wisely when you find out the book you've just plunked down your three dollars for takes it's artillery cues from Jesse 'The Body' Ventura. If only the guys could have squeezed in Carl Weathers repeatedly exclaiming 'it's just a couple of guys running around out there' the book would have reached an unparalleled levels of awesomeness.

So there you have it the story of 'that time the Punisher was an undead killing machine for a while' and the reasons why I enjoyed it...even if no-one else did.

Be here is a few weeks time for another senses-shattering edition of 'Comics Only a Mother Could Love' featuring that issue of Alpha Flight where we find out the true cause of dwarfism.......being possessed by a giant Arabian ghost.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Comic Book Bread And Butter...

We comic-book readers are generally a pretty open-minded bunch. Years ofreading stories about guys who accidentally turn into giant green monsters and wreck up cities or dudes who are basically walking piles of orange rocks but are still swell guys has taught us not to judge a book by it's cover.
We don't care if you have giant, adamantium claws instead of fingers or telescopic, robotic arms so long you can reach over your shoulder and scratch your ass. Even if you go by a name like Lady Deathstrike, we won't just assume you're some kind of monster to be feared and loathed. We'll still give you a fair shake.
However, if you run across a dying Nazi colonel who has just spent his last hours trying to run over folks in a tank to further his career and he refers to you as "pure evil" - then maybe it's time to take a good hard look in the mirror.

(Today's ethical tautology was brought to you courtesy of Wolverine v2 #37. It's the conclusion to an awesome Larry Hama story with delectable art from Marc Silvestri wherein Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike, and for some unknown reason Alpha Flight's resident midget Puck, travel back in time and fight some Nazis. In comics you haven't lived until you've travelled back in time and fought some Nazis. Nazis and monkeys people they're comic-book bread and butter)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Knock Knock...

Who's There?

Those wacky transylvanians take their comedy very seriously

(Today's taste of exotic foregin culture was brought to you by Tomb Of Dracula v1 #4. An excellent issue of the classic series by Archie Goodwin & Gene Colan wherein the Count bites some old lady who lives in a castle decorated with naked pictures of herself. Then he karate chops her butler! That's the last time he'll be invited for supper.)

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


A while back Marvel decided it would give a big push to it's cosmic characters in an attempt to revitalise some titles and characters that had fallen by the wayside in recent years. So we got the awesome Annihilation event followed a bunch of sequels events like Annihilation:Conquest. It did just what was promised, restoring Marvel's cosmic line back to it's former glory.

It even got some old beloved titles back on the stands like Silver Surfer, Nova and my one true cosmic love Guardian of the Galaxy. Most shocking of all though was the return of a Quasar title.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved the Quasar series back in the late 80s/early 90s but let's not kid ourselves. Quasar was never cool.

I mean he had the Farrah Fawcett haircut, a taste for giant gold bracelets and a somewhat odd relationship with a giant floating, inter dimensional half-super-hero-head/half-rotting-vegetable creature that lived in his closet at work.

I mean his name was Wendell for crying out loud!

It's a title that was born to lose from it's inception. How does anyone revitalise that?

Enter Christos Gage. He took up the unenviable task of bringing a new, cool and successful Quasar title back to masses. Luckily Christos came up with a perfect solution to the title's Wendell problem.

It's quite simple really. Kick him and his 80s hair to the curb and replace his sorry ass with HOT SPACE LESBIANS!
Whitt Whooo!

That's right people HOT SPACE LESBIANS. Those three words alone will send every Danger Girl/Fathom fan out there rushing to the stands to pick up the book.

That's not enough though. For a mainstream super-hero book to survive you've got to get in good with your hardcore fanbase. Winning over the hardcore Marvel fans isn't as easy as slapping them in the face with HOT SPACE LESBIANS. Those lesbians have got to tie in to past Marvel continuity or that's the ballgame.

Again Christos is way ahead of us.

One of the HOT SPACE LESBIANS in question is the estranged daughter of the original Captain Marvel. She's the semi-crazy, all round foxy and brand spanking new Protector of the Universe Phyla-Vell!

The other is a second string cosmic Marvel stalwart, and the Marvel Universe's foremost hot, bald chick - Moondragon. She's an ex-member of Warlock's Infinity Watch, a former planetary dictator and she once scored with the Mighty Thor!

How's about that?

Just in case there are some folks out there who never read Warlock & The Infinity Watch (as if), Captain Marvel or those Avengers issues where Moondragon conquers a planet and makes out with Thor, Mr Gage figured he'd sweeten the pot a little. So he randomly tossed in a classic Marvel villain that no fan could fail to love.
It's the Super freaking Adaptoid baby!

Ah that dude's as good today as he was lo those many years ago. They just don't make awesome, super-power duplicating, robotic villains like they used to!

So that's the Brian Pulido demographic and the hardcore Marvel continuity freaks all cinched up. Job's a good 'un.

But wait. There's more? You bet there is.

For Christos Gage so loved the comics that he took his only begotten Quasar book and added a little pinch of awesome.

Question: What's more awesome than having a HOT SPACE LESBIAN suddenly and inexplicably turn into a huge, honking dragon?
Answer: Nothing.

Are you clued in yet people? The new Quasar is awesome with a capital 'A'.

Christos Gage's Annihilation:Conquest Quasar mini-series was my favorite one of the Conquest books. Even though Starlord had Mantis (gasp!),Rocket Raccoon (GASP!) and Groot (HOLY SOCKS!) and Wraith hinted at possible ROM:Spaceknight related revelation. ROM:Spaceknight people, that is ten different kinds of awesome! Despite all that good stuff Quasar still outshone the rest.

It's got everything a growing boy needs. It's got Phyla and Heather fighting the Brood, some Phalanx, the aforementioned and thoroughly fantastic Super-Adaptoid. It's got giant swords and maces made of cosmic energy, origin-recapping, same-sex romance, psychic freak-outs and carbon-based life form assimilation.

Put your Quasar reservations aside and hunt this mini-series down. There's not a dude named Wendell or a floating cosmic vegetable in sight - I promise.

I could happily gush about these books all day long but I gotta go and check my how much I bumped my Google hits by repeatedly using the phrase HOT SPACE LESBIANS.

See you next time.