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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sneak Peek Reviews: 01/06/09

Punisher #1
Written by: Rick Remender

Art by: Jerome Opena

I admit that I am hesitant to write about this book. Almost as hesitant as I was to read it. Ending Punisher War Journal was an interesting decision on the part of Marvel. Starting a new series called Punisher the following week was yet another interesting decision. Deciding to change the title on your long running series from Punisher (MAX) to Punisher: Frank Castle (MAX) was also an interesting decision.

A lot of interesting decisions and a lot of hesitation.

I have come to the decision that everytime Rick Remender sits down at the keyboard to write a comic he does so with the intention of doing whatever he must to make the book my pick of the week. Every time Jerome Opena decides to draw a page of a comic he decides not only am I going to make Scott's jaw drop to the floor I am going to make it better than the page I just finished. He is an INCREDIBLE talent.

Honestly, this book is really freaking great. 22 pages of totally awesome comic-booking. It's almost an auto reccommend to anyone who wanders past. But Marvel is Marvel ... and they always have to find someway to screw the pooch. They made this a $3.99 book and included "The Punisher - Saga" in the back. Why? Seriously: Why? This was soooooo close to being the perfect comic book. It was totally unecessary for you to up the page count and include the Saga. Anyone picking up this book is familiar with The Punisher. You did an homage cover to his first appearance ... IT SCREAMS "BUY ME FANBOY! BUY ME!" ... and fanboys aren't the ones who need the Punisher - Saga ...

But seriously ... buy it anyway ... cause it's that damn good.

Shrapnel #1 (of 5)
Written by: M. Zachary Sherman
Art by: Bagus Hutomo

Radical Comics has been doing a lot of things right when it comes to launching a new comic company. They have exciting titles. They have interesting creators. They are working in largely underused genres. As long as they don't fall into the trap that a lot of interesting new comic companies fall into ... getting too big too fast (Yeah I'm looking at you Virgin and CrossGen) ... they'll have a bright future ahead of themselves.

Shrapnel #1 is pretty cool. I won't say that it's the next great comic to hit the shelves or that it's going to change the way you think about comics or sci-fi or war or giant robot combat ... cause it very likely won't. But when it comes down to brass tacks it's really got a lot of good things going for it.

Imagine Gattica if you added interplanetary conflict and ... well, giant robot combat. Shrapnel is certainly not treading on new ground when it comes to sci-fi but it does so with a dancers grace. There is a lot of interesting story telling done in this first issue and the artwork is also pretty great.

There are, admittedly, some problems that I have with it. The whole book is poorly lit and so a bit of the action is hard to follow, and the whole thing has the feel of being the opening sequence of a video game. But if you can ignore those things then I'd say that this is the kind of book that will leave you smiling and wanting to see what happens next. And at #1.99 for 48 pages of comic on good quality paper and full color ... it's certainly worth checking out ... especially on a light comic week like this one.

Black Lightning #1 (of 6)
Written by: Jen Van Meter
Art by: Cully Hamner

The first time I read a comic written by Jen Van Meter I knew I was reading something special. Hopeless Savages wound up being one of my favorite Indie comics for a good long while and it remains a sentimental favorite for a lot of reasons. When I heard Jen Van Meter was going to be writing an arc on JSA: Classified I got a little excited and a little worried. And then I read the first issue of "Honor Among Thieves" and I saw that my worry was for naught.

When I first encountered Cully Hamner on Batman: Tenses I had a really good feeling about his future as an artist and I have really and truly enjoyed watching him develop in the brief while I have been following his career. His revamp of the Blue Beetle costume was amazing and it was his look for the character that drew me into the title and it fast became one of my favorites as well.

When I found out that the two of them were going to be working together on, of all things, Black Lightning: Year One ... I damn near jumped out of my chair. I have always loved the character of Black Lighting and think that Jefferson Pierce is one of the coolest characters in the DCU. The idea of a public school teacher/principal by day superhero by night has always sat just right with me. Getting a chance to follow his early adventures really gives me a thrill and I waited with baited breath to read the first issue.

Boy was I pleased.

The story-telling choices that Van Meter makes really just sing. The idea of following the first year of a hero, not from the perspective of the hero himself, from the point of view of Jefferson's wife (especially knowing their future) is an effort of brilliance. Watching the Pierce family in their formative years is really special (again especially when you think about what happens to each one of them). There is something really magic about this comic and I cannot wait to read issue #2 and I hope that each and every one of you out there pick up a copy when you go into the store tomorrow.

You won't regret it.

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