Monday, September 13, 2004


I’m going to have to post on the second episode of Medical Investigation (yeah, I know, why did I watch it AGAIN) before I do the Comics Journal post, so I figured I would at least prove this is a comics blog by posting some reviews of what I read this weekend.

PUNISHER 11: I’m in the opposite camp of most of the reviews I have read on this title. I didn’t warm much to the first arc (issues 1-6, which people seemed to like), but I’m liking this one (which I have heard complaints about) MUCH better. It seems like my favorite Ennis stuff is always when there’s a bunch of characters wrestling with issues of belief (or lack there-of), hurtling towards a bloody end. “Brotherhood” (the one with the cops and the priest) was my favorite arc by far of the last series, and this current story is doing it for me. I also like the Punisher better when he is used as a Mary Worth (i.e. non-essential character – the story could have been written without them – who acts as a narrative nexus)/Instrument of Nature figure more than a character, and mostly that’s what happens here (this story isn’t about the punisher in any significant way). I wonder why people don’t try writing Electra this way (I think Rucka took a spin at it in one arc). Wonder if the Punisher and the two young characters (the British Soldier and the Irish guy who has spent the last 3 issues tied up) will be the only ones to walk away (only wiser).

IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS: Short review – “about what I expected.” I’m not a huge Ted Rall fan, but I agreed with most of his critique of Speigleman , which was recently rediscovered by the blogosphere. It had always seemed to me that Maus was a greater triumph of ambition and self-marketing than art, but there are many positive things to be said for it. I have been apprehensive about reading No Towers, Speigleman’s first real work (magazine covers non withstanding) in a while, mostly because I didn’t like the excerpts presented in the McSweeney’s graphic novel issue. The full result, however, is even more under whelming than I expected, as works of more personal and political power were produced within a few weeks of 9-11, and it’s tough to read this without realizing it took 3 YEARS to put together what amounts to not very much (this is partially because Speigleman won’t let you forget how long it took him, and how hard it was). The art comes off as crude, sometimes obviously intentionally (when reenacting old newspaper strips), but often not (the sequence of parts of himself and his cat changing places looks like a layout sketch). The most obvious complaint, however, is that the book is almost entirely about Speigleman himself, but the self-focus yields no real revelatory content besides that he has trouble dealing. The only part that really got to me was the bit where he runs across the Tribeca foot bridge to get to his daughter at Stuyvessant, and this is an entirely personal thing (we moved from NYC a few months before 9-11, where our son went to Stuyvessant, and watching the students run was the main image that haunted my dreams of 3 years ago). I think there was something of value going on in the (admittedly poorly rendered) page where he gets yelled at by the homeless woman, but this little anecdote is 10% of the story, and can’t support the weight of the whole work. This was not BAD, per se, just not nearly good enough for so many reasons.

BITE CLUB 6: Didn’t see that ending coming. This redeems some of the other sins of the series.

FABLES 29: Love the apology for Van Helsing getting there first.

FORSAKEN 1: Late on this one. Story idea clichéd’ (they admit as much) but OK. The art is not impressive. Colorist should get top billing.


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