Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now Reviews #1

Looking for some new comics to read I realized that I have shelves full of trades and I’ve read very few of them. One of the “perks” of being a letterer is the comps that show up at your door every few weeks. I haven’t been lettering full-time for months and books are still showing up. Last week FedEx left me with a few trades one being Wolverine Origin and the other was The Punisher. As I flipped through them I was surprised to realize that I didn’t remember either one at all. So over the past few subway commutes to work I decided to read one of ‘em.

So here’s the First in a series…

“Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now Reviews”
The Punisher Max Volume 7 “Man of Stone” by Garth Ennis & Leandro Fernandez

First of all as a letterer, this book was in the top 2 as far as the most well prepared scripts in which to letter from. This book was a breeze to letter for 40 plus issues and if the rest of my lettering work went as well as The Punisher did I might still be lettering. But that’s another story.

I was a huge fan of the Ennis/Dillon Punisher stuff back in the day and after reading the “Man of Stone” storyline I was reminded about what I don’t like about the Punisher Max incarnation. This really goes deeper than just the Punisher Max run but the entire Max line as a whole. But more on that later.

While Ennis is usually good for an entertaining read this story was as pedestrian as a Steven Segal movie. Here’s the ingredients. Take your loner (Punisher) and pit him against incredible odds as he faces a rogue Russian General on foreign soil. Throw in the Punisher’s tough-as-nails-and-hard-to-get Love Interest whose out for justice on her abusive husband. The abusive husband is your basic scumbag American Traitor who happens to be using the Russian General as a way to get the Punisher out of hiding. Segal--I mean--the Punisher sports some major machismo as he teams up with the Love Interest amidst a frenzy of sexual tension. He takes out the Russian with just his wits and a Houdiniesque escape that’ll make you wonder what the show McGuyver would’ve been like if it were an R Rated Movie. Oh, and don’t forget the General’s right hand man who has a major attitude problem but “surprisingly” gets his in the end.

Outside of the formulaic storyline Ennis’s writing was just peppered with curse words that are really the only reason I can see keeping this book in the Max line. Now I’m no alter boy, I’ve been known to curse like a longshoreman, but the use of these words just seem so out of place. It’s like a bad Howard Stern rip-off radio show getting a day of FCC Free radio. They seem to be used purely for shock value… although they’re not shocking to anyone over the age of 8.

When Marvel first announced it’s “Adult” line of comics it was thought that it could be the answer to DC’s very successful Vertigo line. Vertigo is almost an entirely stand-alone line similar to a creator-owned line or “independent” line of comics. Vertigo doesn’t hinge on Superman and Batman but rather books like “Fables”. Now I’ll admit that Vertigo has had much more time to iron out any problems while the Max line is still relatively new, but one would think that with a model such as Vertigo that Marvel could’ve learned from their cross-town rivals. Instead the Max line seems like its in limbo. Looking from the outside it seems as if the line could fade away and nothing would be missed. Just move the Punisher back into the regular Marvel Universe. Or turn Punisher War Journal into regular ol’ Punisher and viola!

While Vertigo seems to be a place where their creators can take independent ideas free of DC Universe tangles, Marvel has taken that possibility away from the Max line with the Icon Line, which is a series of books created to give big-name creators a place to show-off their non-Marvel universe creations.

What will Max Line’s fate be? Your guess is as good as mine. Right now it doesn’t look good unless somebody comes along with a clear vision as to what the line means to Marvel. Because it has to be more than a Punisher book fulla cuss words.

So that’s my first rather scathing review of books I lettered but didn’t read. Boy, looking back what’s more scathing than Segal movie comparison? Eeek.

I’ll pull something else off the shelf tonight…hopefully I’ll enjoy it!

Stay tuned folks and thanks for reading.
--R

2 comments:

Jared said...

I'm always surprised to see a Marvel Max book. There are not many of them and they are infrequent so I always assume the line was cancelled.It's only identity is the curses.

RandyG said...

Yeah its only a matter of time before it goes away. I bet it Ennis told them he doesn't want to write Punisher anymore they'd fold up that tent moments later.