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WLG #372: Everything Old is New Again

A column article by: Matt Spatola

Well its summer folks. That’s right I thought I would start the column with a bit of the obvious. Actually I’m only mentioning that as a set up for what I’m going to bring up next.

As we all know summer does not mean just sweltering heat and endless reruns on TV. It also means vacations at the beach. And that’s where I’ll be headed as soon as I finish this week’s column. With visions of sun, surf, sand and bikini clad sun-goddesses rattling through the brain and a tight schedule of packing this week’s WLG is going to be a little shorter than my usual.

So with that in mind I’m diving right in to this week’s comics and picking out What Looks Good.

DC



DC Retroactive Batman The 80’s #1 $4.99 (Mike Barr & Jerry Bingham)

Someone using the name, appearance and methodology of The Reaper is killing off the mobsters of Gotham City...but both of the men who previously masqueraded as The Reaper are dead! Meanwhile, Batman must shepherd an untried Robin - Jason Todd. A reprinted Reaper tale from the 1980s rounds out this special edition.

I really love the ‘Retroactive’ idea DC has been using. It‘s great seeing classic creative teams back on the characters they are famous for and giving fans and new readers another helping of the stories they made classic.

This book and probably the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire JLI book are the ones that I am most looking forward to. I was a huge follower of Barr’s work on Batman in the 80s. The stories he did both with Bingham on the Son of the Demon OGN and with Alan Davis in the regular titles were great. And DC knew it too by tapping Barr and Davis to follow up Frank Miller’s legendary "Year One" storyline with their own gripping "Year Two".

Plus I love the Reaper; great costume design!

IMAGE



Infinite #1 $2.99 (Robert Kirkman & Rob Liefeld)

Freedom fighter Bowen has lost everything in the war against The Infinite. His only hope is to travel back in time to prevent their world domination before it starts! Bowen can't do this alone, he must turn to the only ally he knows he can trust: HIMSELF. Now a man in his 40s, damaged by the horrors of war, must team up with his younger, reckless and optimistic 20-year-old self in order to SAVE THE WORLD!

Wow, first we are doing the 80s and now we are in the 90s! Well this week we are getting the launch of one of Kirkman’s new ongoing titles from his Skybound imprint, Infinite. Not surprisingly, the internet chatter about the book actually bypasses Kirkman and settles squarely on Liefeld.

You know back in the day I was a very big fan of Liefeld- as were many people since his X-Force work was selling millions of books. But I have always been able to accept his style for what it is. And as such I can still enjoy Liefeld today. Now sure I would love to see backgrounds in the panels or a face that isn’t grimacing. And with that though comes a certain in-your-face energy that lots of other artists lack.

Liefeld’s approach to comic illustrating wouldn’t fit many titles but I’m betting it will fit here. Kirkman is always solid as a writer; even his weakest issues are still better than most other writers.

My concern is how long this book will last. Kirkman has already dropped out of Haunt because of being busy and Liefeld is back at DC doing Hawk & Dove again. Still it's worth a chance to check out.

MARVEL



Punisher #1 $3.99 (Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto)

TIME TO GET BACK TO WORK. For Frank Castle death comes easy...life is where things gets complicated. Fully loaded with the Eisner winning writer Greg Rucka (Batwoman, Queen and Country, WOLVERINE) and neo-superstar artist Marco Checchetto (Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil), the BIGGEST GUN of all returns with blood on his hands and vengeance in his eyes. As New York City's body counts continue to rise, the city's streets are teeming with more methodical criminals than ever and a police force doing it's best to keep its head above water. The Punisher has returned to serve his own brand of justice with everything's he's got... but can he survive the darkness stored in his own arsenal? Plus bonus pages exploring some of the new personalities in Frank's life...and how closely intertwined living is with dying.


Ok, so the flashbacks continue, I guess. Marvel is re-launching The Punisher in an ongoing title for the 673rd time. This time they have gone to Rucka to find the secret formula to make the character work in the Marvel Universe.

The Punisher has had a very successful and critically acclaimed run in Marvel’s MAX. But since the heyday of the character in the 90s they have had trouble finding the approach to the character that catches on with today’s more sophisticated readers in the 21st century.

As a kid of the 90s I loved the early Punisher stuff. I think that to make the Punisher successful in the Marvel Universe and not in an outside continuity like the MAX series you just need to acknowledge that it has to be a middle ground approach. You can’t go all uber-realistic like the MAX books and you can’t go all 'comic booky' either- see "Franken-Castle".

Rucka, being one of the great crime writers working today, will probably find it though. And with the wonderfully moody art of Checchetto, who reminds me of JH Williams, this should be a ht for Marvel.

Red Skull #2 of 4 $2.99 (Greg Pak & Mirco Colak)

The young man who will be the Red Skull struggles to stay alive, as the martial drumbeat of Berlin's forces of evil grows in power. Johann's life is a hardscrabble fight and a miserable existence of hunger, thievery, scrapping with street gangs until he wins the affections of a friendly shopkeeper and his daughter. But if a boy raised himself on the streets through violence, can there be any other way but tragic destiny?

The flood of new Cap material is waning down since the movie has premiered. Marvel is down to basically this mini and the recently launched/re-launched two ongoings. I would say something like they saved the best for last but I liked some of the other books, too.

However Pak is bringing the same inner vision of the character to this origin series as he did to his critically acclaimed Magneto: Testament series.

As long as the character of the Red Skull has been around you would think there would have been a story like this before. But past Captain America #300 and a few flashes here and there Marvel hasn’t really shown us much into the past of the Red Skull.

By the way, I did like the tweak to his story the movie added (with The Skull being the first, failed Super Soldier experiment); it provides another layer to the twisted obsession/relationship between Steve Rogers and the Skull.

And I wanted to also mention the fantastic David Aja covers gracing the series. They are gorgeous and a good spin on the wartime propaganda posters. Those alone are worth the $2.99 cover price - thanks for that too, Marvel.

Well I said my column would be short this week. Thanks for the understanding my loyal readers. I’ll be off to the sandy shores of Ocean City Maryland for some fun, sun, and relaxation. If any of you will also be at OCMD stop on by and say hello. I’ll be the guy at the beach reading my Walter Simonson Thor omnibus while my 9 year old daughter tries to bury me under the sand.

See you in 3!

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