Archive for March, 2012

The Punisher #5 of 5

March 18, 2012

Steven Grant & Jo Duffy // Mike Vosburg & John Beatty
May 1986
**
This mini aims to touch the Punisher w/ irony, if not psychological depth. So its climax sees the antihero not shoot his foe. But the creative talent has departed, & their subs aren’t nearly as adroit. The final issue simply presents the Punisher’s brutal methods & idealizes his self-sufficiency.
[last issue: The Punisher #4 of 5]

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The Punisher #4 of 5

March 17, 2012

Steven Grant // Mike Zeck
April 1986
****
An anti-crime conspiracy forms a platoon of Punishers by brainwashing convicts. Four issues in, Grant finally adds an outsized element to his crime mag, but he gives the core concept a good twist. It explodes the antihero’s one-man war on crime by enlarging it—but it also idealizes the man-alone trope.
[last issue: The Punisher #3 of 5]
[next issue: The Punisher #5 of 5]

The Punisher #3 of 5

March 16, 2012

Steven Grant // Mike Zeck
March 1986
***
Who’s gunning down mobsters before Frank Castle can do it, the Kingpin (never seen) or a shady syndicate of vigilante abettors? According to the mini, the Punisher can’t see beyond his immediate plans tho’ he recognizes his flaw. But the mechanics of action heroics subverts Grant’s ironic angle.
[last issue: The Punisher #2 of 5]
[next issue: The Punisher #4 of 5]

The Punisher #2 of 5

March 15, 2012

Steven Grant // Mike Zeck
February 1986
***
The Punisher, claiming that he’s offed Marvel-NYC’s crime boss (AKA the Kingpin), sparks a gangland war that draws innocent blood on the subway. Grisly stuff. Grant probes his protag for a conscience, but the mini’s draw is Zeck’s excellent pencils. His faces look like an ’80s take on EC’s expressive mugs.
[last issue: The Punisher #1 of 5]
[next issue: The Punisher #3 of 5]

The Punisher #1 of 5

March 14, 2012

Steven Grant // Mike Zeck
January 1986
****
A longtime guest-star in Marvel comics, the Punisher’s hook was to act as foil for good guys like Spidey & Daredevil. Stripped of that context, his inspiration in ’60s paperback vigilantes (e.g. the Executioner) is obvious. Backed by hard-boiled narration, Frank Castle spoils a crime boss’s prison riot then finds allies in a mysterious syndicate—vigilantism condoned by a silent majority.
[next issue: The Punisher #2 of 5]

Elektra: Assassin #8 of 8

March 13, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
March 1987
*****

A tight end to what’s arguably the best work of Miller’s banner year, & Sienkiewicz’s masterpiece too. Maybe the seminal work of the grim/gritty ’80s, w/ its ninja/demon/cyborg/superspy battle royale before the Lincoln Mem, & a comment on the Reagan Era, politically ugly & aesthetically brilliant.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #7 of 8

also indexed for Mar. ’87
The Mighty Thor #377

Elektra: Assassin #7 of 8

March 12, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
February 1987
*****

Miller’s politics come from the far right, casting his villains from ’80s Big Gov’ment: nuclear brinksmanship & a spy org’s ex-con cyborg. Sink delivers true art, a set of splash pages that take Elektra (& us, natch) into the mind of the Beast, roaring as it imagines Earth as a burnt cinder.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #6 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #8 of 8

also indexed for Feb. ’87
The Mighty Thor #376

Elektra: Assassin #6 of 8

March 11, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
January 1987
*****

While our heroes hide out at a honeymoon hotel, Nick Fury discovers a rogue tech division in SHIELD. Plus a general nearly starts WW3. Two decades before NextwaveCasanovaElektra parodies Steranko’s classic “more-is-more” spy-fi, & executes a libertarian critique of Reagan-era military spending.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #5 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #7 of 8

also indexed for Jan. ’87
The Mighty Thor #375

Elektra: Assassin #5 of 8

March 10, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
December 1986
*****

Issue #5 follows a scuba duel in the Potomac w/ a helicopter dogfight in DC airspace! It also gives Elektra a foil, a blonde SHIELD agent in Catholic iconography. This mini exemplifies the shift towards violence in mid-’80s comics, but here it has a thematic context as well as an aesthetic.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #4 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #6 of 8

also indexed for Dec. ’86
The Mighty Thor #374

Elektra: Assassin #4 of 8

March 9, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
November 1986
*****

Nick Fury lobbies a senator for funding while testing a 20′ pistol! Then there’s action, an impressionist car chase as our SHIELD hero rescues Elektra, trapped in a bimbo’s body. E:A is even better than Dark Knight Returns, partly due to Sink’s difficult style. Sadly, that’s probably also why it’s less popular.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #3 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #5 of 8

also indexed for Nov. ’86
The Mighty Thor #373

Elektra: Assassin #3 of 8

March 8, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
October 1986
*****

The book shifts its POV to SHIELD Agent Garrett, a hard-boiled, far-right antihero. He’s cunning, but E’s always more so, which, coupled w/ her lethality & Eastern mysticism, lends her a death-goddess aspect. Her goal is just as Jungian: to kill a demon that’s possessed a liberal candidate for prez.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #2 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #4 of 8

also indexed for Oct. ’86
The Fantastic Four #295
The Mighty Thor #372

Elektra: Assassin #2 of 8

March 7, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
September 1986
*****

Elektra dons a Steranko-esque brain recorder to get exposition; a Reagan-era spook tracks her across S. America, no match for her ninja prowess. It takes several reads to follow the oroboros-shaped plot, the switches from psyche to psyche, the lush daubs held by scratchy lines.

last issue: Elektra: Assassin #1 of 8
next issue: Elektra: Assassin #3 of 8

also indexed for Sept. ’86
The Fantastic Four #294
The Mighty Thor #371

Elektra: Assassin #1 of 8

March 6, 2012

Frank Miller // Bill Sienkiewicz
August 1986
*****

Under an alt imprint, Miller revisits the ninja/femme fatale from his Daredevil run. The antiheroine received electroshock in a snake pit, having discovered a demonic side to US intrigues in a banana republic. Bill S’s paints add a scary, hallucinatory quality to the mag’s non-linear expressionism.

next issue: Elektra: Assassin #2 of 8

also indexed for Aug. ’86
Daredevil #233
The Fantastic Four #293

Daredevil #233

March 5, 2012

Frank Miller // Dave Mazzucchelli
August 1986
*****

Kingpin’s paramilitary assault alerts Captain America (written perfectly as a man out of time) to a secret supersoldier project. The caped critique of the US govt. is out of synch w/ Murdock’s arc. Not quite a perfect ending, but one of the great short runs in superhero comics, thanks esp to Mazz.

last issue: Daredevil #232
next issue: Daredevil #234

also indexed for Aug. ’86
Elektra: Assassin #1 of 8
The Fantastic Four #293

Daredevil #232

March 4, 2012

Frank Miller // Dave Mazzucchelli
July 1986
*****

There’s more action to this one issue than the previous five! The tonal switch from internal to external feels like spillover from Miller’s recently completed Dark Knight Returns. So does the sight of Fisk, wrapped in a US flag, ordering a pscyho supersoldier in Rambo drag to attack Hell’s Kitchen.

last issue: Daredevil #231
next issue: Daredevil #233

also indexed for Jul. ’86
The Fantastic Four #292
The Mighty Thor #369

Daredevil #231

March 3, 2012

Frank Miller // Dave Mazzucchelli
June 1986
*****

Matt is the guardian devil once more, biffing ‘pin-hired psychos, incl. one in a DD suit. #231 may be a turning point in Miller’s work, just as it’s one in this superb arc. It’s here, as hero Murdock stops a haggard Karen Page from relapsing on heroin, that his melodramatic impulse overtakes him.

last issue: Daredevil #230
next issue: Daredevil #232

also indexed for Jun. ’86
The Fantastic Four #291
The Mighty Thor #368

Daredevil #230

March 2, 2012

Frank Miller // Dave Mazzucchelli
May 1986
*****

Tho’ the title character spends the whole ish in bed w/ a fever, the arc’s several subplots begin to boil. The most harrowing, in art & emo, has reporter Ben Urich cowed by Kingpin’s threats. Incidentally, it looks like Miller pencilled some pages—but his style blends seamlessly w/ Mazzucchelli’s.

last issue: Daredevil #229
next issue: Daredevil #231

also indexed for May ’86
Balder the Brave #4 of 4
The Fantastic Four #290
The Mighty Thor #367
The Punisher #5 of 5

Daredevil #229

March 1, 2012

Frank Miller // Dave Mazzucchelli
April 1986
*****

FM & DM set up an artful network of parallel actions & Christian iconography in a sepulchral tone. They’re telling a death/rebirth tale (shouldn’t they set #229 over Easter, not X-Mas?), but redemption is hard. Murdock, deranged & homeless, ends up in Hell’s Kitchen as subplots twist thrillingly.

last issue: Daredevil #228
next issue: Daredevil #230

also indexed for Apr. ’86
The Fantastic Four #289
The Mighty Thor #366
The Punisher #4 of 5