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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dead@17 #2, John Woo's 7 Brothers #2, Punisher War Journal #1 

Dead@17 #2:

Well, you know what you’re getting.

The real story is Josh Howard’s evolution as a storyteller. Dead@17 has always been at least mildly entertaining, in all its iterations with all its creative teams. Howard, though, is the one who gave us the original mini-series, and Viper Comics its launch title.

He’s come a long way since then. The original Dead@17 was basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer in demographics and content, sort of a lo-cal supernatural action title with vague ambitions at setting up a greater cosmology, presumably for future titles like this one. Howard’s distinctive art went a long way toward getting the title some attention. But while his art seems to mostly have stayed in the same place, his writing is growing.

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John Woo's 7 Brothers #2:

John Woo’s 7 Brothers is a weird one for Garth Ennis. I don’t pretend to know the division of labor between Ennis and Woo, however; Woo is credited as the creator, and Ennis as the scripter. How much credit goes to one, how much to the other? If I had to guess, I’d say Woo wrote the general outline and Ennis ran with it, doing much of the actual development and work. So we come back to: this is a weird one for Garth Ennis.

Why? Because the conventions underlying the story are so very superhero. For anyone who knows Thing One about Ennis, this goes against type.

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Punisher War Journal #1:

I’m having a hard time figuring out what to think of Punisher War Journal. No one but Garth Ennis has had anything interesting to say about Frank Castle in several years. In that span of time Ennis’s spin has become the catholic version of Marvel’s most infamous vigilante, at least as definitive as Steven Grant’s Circle of Blood and Chuck Dixon’s Punisher War Zone.

But along comes a new writer with his own take on the character. Matt Fraction has never made much of an impression on me; he usually comes off as an uneasy wannabe mix between Warren Ellis, Brian Wood, and Joe Casey. Furthering the problem is that a lot of his concepts are reheated spins on material from those same writers, six to twelve months later. Are talking gorillas the kitschy cool thing these days? Fraction’ll put out Mantooth. Are loopy action-comedies featuring historical figures in? Here comes Five Fists of Science. How about “reinventions” of revered 60’s comic book genres? Here’s Casanova to Casey’s Godland.

So I don’t want to dismiss this new PWJ because Fraction seems challenged in the Original Ideas department. Or because I secretly think Ennis is the only guy who should be writing the character. (I don’t.) Or even because of all the Civil War nonsense.

And yet I still don’t like it.

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