This is pretty much all of my new pamphlets impressions.

*Sort of uninspiring week at the old Direct Market in terms of pamphlets. Which is fine, since I have plenty of other, bookshelf-format things to go through, especially once this week is over and I suddenly have time in my life.

*52 Dept: Christmas is a good enough hook to stick a whole bunch of character moments on, so that’s pretty much what happens here. It works pretty nice, if only for the seemingly completely random selection of characters that show up in the big gift-giving spread. It was pointed out to me at the comics store that nobody ever explained how Hawkgirl got back to her normal size, though my first thought upon seeing her panel was “Crutches… you shouldn’t have…” Still, I liked Red Tornado’s head laying in a heap of garbage for the holiday, and the framing Animal Man panels, one of the series’ relatively few moments of genuine design flourish, and in an issue with comparatively weak art no less. Sort of undone by that atrocious sheet of paper Luthor reads, but hey…

Other than that, little character snapshots that either encapsulate things or give the slight impression of nudging the plot forward. Ralph getting lectured on his drinking habits by Dr. Fate’s helmet while walking boozily through his Justice League memorabilia collection, Black Adam and Co. probably taking things one step too far in the other direction, Alfred polishing off the last of those community service hours just as 2006 closes - shoplifting's not such a thrill now, eh? Complimentary throws of a boomerang projectile in the Nightwing (I’m somehow glad they’re running with this little subplot, don’t ask me why) and Suicide Squad sequences at the beginning and end. Pretty good.

*And The Punisher MAX #42 draws another of the ‘big picture’ storylines to a close. In sum: soldiers hide dark hearts, the blood of honor runs through even atrocious veins, evil with honor is preferable to evil through avarice, human affairs are a bleak cycle of warfare, violence is overarching and capricious, some can pray to detach themselves though money smoothes the separation, we are all fallen and probably going to hell, though some will arrive quicker than others. And Garth Ennis is apparently willing to carry both his signature themes and a particularized motif (Frank as death’s avatar) as far as they’ll possibly go over years and years of corporate-owned comics, and somehow, against all odds, it won’t get old on this particular Marvel-published title, when it does seemingly everywhere else. I liked the last page.