Punisher 10 Featured Reviews 

Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 3/22/23

By | March 27th, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

There’s a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.

Let’s get this party started.

Batman: One Bad Day – Ra’s Al Ghul #1
Written by Tom Taylor
Illustrated by Ivan Reis
Colored by Brad Anderson
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

Having a one-shot comic give the essence of a character, to easily read even for newcomers, is extremely important. Having the comic give a new perspective on a character, to give true pathos, is another. Many a story may have one or the other, but rarely both at once. With “Batman: One Bad Day – Ra’s Al Ghul” #1, Tom Taylor somehow manages this dual focus, crafting a tale of past and present that makes even the hardened international villain at the head of the League of Assassins, one of Batman’s primary foes, elicit true sympathy from readers. His horrific actions are never downplayed, and in fact are shown on panel. However, by giving a look at the eponymous character’s struggles, the ways in which the League works in both violent and non-violent ways to achieve his goal of a better world, even through means plainly obvious as terrorism and assassination, Taylor allows the audience to see both the harm he does through the perspective of the Dark Knight Detective and the ways Ra’s hopes to prevent atrocities he witnessed in his centuries of life through the man and his daughter Talia.

Ivan Reis has an art style that fits very well into the somber, oppressive mood of the piece, which is depressing even in its most action-heavy moments. Deep shadows can hide an assassin as easily as they could hide Batman or Robin, and the intense detail of their faces helps to push forward the emotional heart of the entirety of “Batman: One Bad Day – Ra’s Al Ghul” #1 in its bloodstained, tear-stained glory.

Brad Anderson’s colors perfect the already stellar artwork. The darker tones and use of coloration in accordance with a darker tone of day and mood help to sell how desperate, how committed, every side is to their aims, or at certain times how hopeless the situation may be for a given character. The brilliant greens of Lazarus are used in direct contrast, emphasizing the pits’ otherworldly nature.

Final Verdict: 9.0– Artwork, colors, and writing work together expertly to tell a fascinating, heartwrenching tale about one of Batman’s primary villains.

The Neighbors #1
Written by Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Illustrated by Letizia Cadonici
Colored by Alessandro Santoro
Lettered by Becca Carey
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin

“The Neighbors” #1 is a bit all over the place, though it shows some promise. The characters are fully realized and thoughtfully written, the horror delivers genuine tension, and the artwork works great at its best. At the same time, the dialogue is rough at best and the pacing is largely poor, making this a tough read in some ways. To be clear, this is an interesting book, it just leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, when Casey is saddled with the expository dialogue that Janet left her wife for a younger partner who ended up coming out as a trans man, it feels almost comical not in content but in delivery. The same applies to her joke about being in therapy “until we all die of climate change” which is almost painful to read. Yet again, content is fine but dialogue is sufficiently on the nose as to feel burdensome.

On top of all of this, the pacing is awful. The introduction is fine, if a smidge erratic but then out of nowhere, this becomes a real horror comic. While the horror sequence is gripping and anxiety-inducing, there’s no sense that something scary is actually coming. Sure, there’s pretty explicit gestures to the fact that scary things are looming, there’s no buildup before the tone changes wildly.

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The artwork is largely just solid here. Throughout the issue there are certain moments where details become more thin and characters more poorly rendered, but thankfully those seemingly rushed moments are few and far between. For most of the rest of the issue, it’s serviceable; the layouts keep things moving along quickly enough and the characters are visually distinct and memorable. But it’s the final pages of “The Neighbors” #1 that the art team really starts firing on all cylinders. Before Casey is taken by the neighbors, the art essentially just showed what was happening. Of course, there was a creepy angle to things but that felt less expressive than it did a byproduct of the fact that scary things would eventually be happening and the style needed to fit once eventually became now. But when Tom Shuck comes by the house, things become genuinely tense and scary. The dark coloring is great and perfectly fits Tom’s looming, icy presence. Casey’s fear is palpable and contagious and Tom feels like an inevitable force. It’s a shift in tone and overall competent storytelling technique that the issue needed and the art team sells it perfectly.

The mystery introduced on the final page is incredibly intriguing. Given that we just watched Casey get kidnapped, one has to wonder where her dupe came from. Worse yet, she’s suddenly bathed in light and warmth, a coloring decision that should put us at ease but instead just makes things more unsettling. It’s not clear that this series has what it takes to stick the landing but its flashes of quality are high enough to make it worth a shot.

Final Verdict: 6.7 Scattered pacing and some sloppy dialogue dull an otherwise interesting, genuinely scary debut.

Punisher #10
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Jesūs Saiz and Paul Azaceta
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Cory Petit
Reviewed by Ryan Fitzmartin

“Punisher” #10 finds Frank Castle attempting to save his resurrected marriage while carrying out a global killing spree. It’s an ambitious, large-scale issue, containing emotional flashbacks, brutal violence, and the Punisher’s unbridled rage. Frank’s killing spree is interspersed with scenes from his past marriage. “Punisher” #10 creates a grim, brutal portrait of a man obsessed only with violence and murder. It’s a stark, effectively grim portrait of one of Marvel’s darkest characters. As Frank’s power grows he only becomes more untethered from what remains of his fragile humanity. The climatic final pages only begin to hint at an inflection point which must come in further issues. It’s strong storytelling from Jason Aaron backed up by some terrific art.

Jesūs Saiz and Paul Azaceta split the art in the issue, with Saiz taking the present day and Azaceta handling the flashbacks. Saiz brings great detail to the blood and brutality, bringing the scale of the story to life with great detail. Burning buildings and beheaded gangsters are vividly and viciously depicted. Azaceta’s work on the flashbacks is stark, conveying the desolate reality of Frank’s marriage with bleak compositions and sharp lines. It’s all very effective in creating a contrast between the two timelines while maintaining the grim tone.

Overall, Punisher fans should be pleased as “Punisher” #10 covers new, blood-soaked ground while staying true to the character. It’s a rich and difficult narrative and it earns its heavyweight emotional punches. This harsh book won’t be for everyone but those who want darkness will get it.

Final Verdict: 7.6 – A merciless tale of vengeance and violence.

Torrent #2
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Illustrated by Justin Greenwood
Colored by Rico Renzi
Lettered by Keith Wood
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo

Marc Guggenheim puts the reader right into the passenger seat of this wild ride storyline following Michelle Metcalf, who is not only the superhero Crackerjack but also a mother and wife. Her husband was killed in the previous issue, and her son is currently held captive by a villain, Skelton, so there is this Die Hard vibe storyline of going to get her son regardless of what gets in her way. Guggenheim uses Metcalf’s narration throughout the story to speak directly to the reader about her true feelings about the situation instead of the more calculated short lines of dialogue between her and other characters. This shows the reader that Metcalf has the modesty to ask for help, but it doesn’t change her mission when refused or ignored. Guggenheim has created this action-packed storyline centered around family and the heart and fuel of what keeps Metcalf moving forward.

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Another exciting element that Guggenheim brings to the story is the political aspect of being a superhero. When Crackerjack asks for help from Captain Criterion, the world’s greatest hero, his hesitation comes from the uncertainty of who was behind the attack rather than helping a friend. Then after the other heroes intervene to save Crackerjack and her son, there is this explanation of how the villain would get to remain free. The heroes would be unable to be a witness in court; otherwise, they’d be at risk of exposing their true identities. This thinking style doesn’t usually get shared directly with the audience, so it’s like seeing behind the curtain of being a hero.

The illustrations by Justin Greenwood have an Invincible vibe, where the character has this animated fluidity but is still grounded in reality. The fight sequence between Skelton and Crackerjack felt easy to follow, and the fact that neither of them was these tremendously muscular characters made it even more exciting. They both have this athletic and wiry look that easily entertains the reader as Skelton throws her around his lair like a rag doll. Greenwood also makes a good choice in making the fight’s aftermath more bloody than gory to maintain a strong sense of reality rather than over-exaggeration. Rico Renzi’s colors are another crucial cog to hook the reader. Throughout the issue, he uses bright pinks, oranges, purples, and even blues for the hospital scenes. There isn’t a dull background in this issue; mixed with the balance of action and narration, it hits on all levels to keep the reader locked in and ready to see what happens.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – Hell hath no fury for someone who kidnaps a superhero’s child, and this issue shows you exactly why you shouldn’t.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

Multiversity Staff

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