Compression Style!

*Busy with all sorts of business today. Thus, in the spirit of business, I will be providing you all with the Executive Summary of today’s post, compressed into a format easily digestible for those ‘on the go,’ probably by now on the way to a party to celebrate the settlement of the BlackBerry lawsuit.

*This week’s column: I imagine what might have happened had I attended the New York Comic-Con. It is pure reverie, but the Muppet Babies did try hard to drive home the importance of an all-devouring fantasy life, and I’d hate to dishonor their memories.

The Punisher MAX #31

I guess you don’t really appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Under penciler Leo Fernandez, inkers Scott Hanna and Scott Koblish, and colorist Dan Brown, this title took on a visual texture more akin to a bande dessinée than a Marvel superhero book, all rich and layered. It responded well to writer Garth Ennis’ lavishly bleak, darkly funny storytelling.

Here we’ve got penciler/inker Goran Parlov, best known to me for providing breakdowns for Bill Sienkiewicz in Richard K. Morgan’s first Black Widow miniseries, and everything kind of drops down toward more typical-looking Marvel action. Frank even looks younger, though I did like his constant squinting and unmovable expression. Still, it’s a different tone, even with the same writer taking the same general approach. Instructive.

Interesting way to start the storyline - obviously we know Frank’s not going to die, so why not bust out the sharks right at the beginning. The motif of seemingly-cultured (of not quite legit) villains trading off their dirty work to street-level monsters is a recurring one in this series; as emphasized in The Punisher: The End, Frank respects no social boundary in his pursuit of crime, and such a set-up allows maximum access to action for these six-issue arcs.

That last page is how you end an introductory issue, by the way.

Gødland #8

Presenting the origin (in part) of Freidrich Nickelhead, who’s emerging as the dominant personality among the series’ many villains. Also present: the origin (in part) of the known universe. The latter gets twice the pages as the former, don’t worry.

Iboga is apparently a mad, yet sensitive god - logically the unknown universe preceded the known universe, and Iboga was the finest killer of all the soldiers therein. An interesting parallel emerges to writer Joe Casey’s work on Iron Man: The Inevitable: both books feature a violent character evolving into a higher form, providing access to new modes of perception for other, more heroic characters.

But Iboga is the universe, and his killer instinct resides in all of us, just as the elements that make up our bodies are derived from ancient stars. Also - witness a primal supercharacter residing inside all of the others, just as a certain primal creative force informs all that goes on in this book.

Still, this is its own title, a fun one, and I’m really starting to dig those odd mood shifts; the gore-coated shootings that open the issue give way to glowing neon things with detached heads and crazy faces. More new villains! The funny twist involving Basil would have been better if the cover preview in the back of the first trade hadn’t spoiled it. Anyhow, this series is good