"This isn't about demons at all, is it? It's about women. It's about power and it's about women and you just hate those two words in the same sentence
"This isn't about demons at all, is it? It's about women. It's about power and it's about women and you just hate those two words in the same sentence, don't you?"
Borrowed from a coworker, read in a single sitting at my desk! It's been literal years since I finished Buffy the show, and I've only seen it the once, so my memory is probably hazier than a lot of the fans reading this series. But this first volume of "Season Eight" still did a good enough job of contextualising old villains who popped up, while also flinging you in the deep end with some great showing rather than telling, as it reveals how the status quo has changed over the past year since the end of S7.
I realised I'm not that big a fan of the pacing in graphic novels anymore, where each issue obviously works up to its own little cliffhanger reveal ("turn the page and see another familiar face from the show!!") to try to hook you into the next issue -- but I guess it's almost like commercial breaks in TV, so I could forgive it.
Which kinda brings me to discuss the new format -- in short, it works surprisingly well! Not being constrained by the budget of a television show means that the scope and scale is blown wide here. There's almost post-apocalyptic worldbuilding as it tosses you into a world where, after the destruction of Sunnydale, Buffy & co. have formed a sprawling organisation to fight the forces of evil. They're almost militarised, with multiple outposts all over the world. Just because the show ended and the hellmouth closed doesn't mean that Evil™ quit.
Although as other reviews have pointed out, because Whedon is having a blast of flaunting the action without those budget restraints, these first issues are missing some of the more small-scale, intimate scenes -- the characters are so busy fending off massive threats that they don't get to interact with each other much, only having fleeting, small conversations between battles. And so you find yourself wanting more of the Scooby Gang (just like how an exhausted, larger-than-life Buffy also finds herself missing her gang and the good old days, before she was essentially a general at the head of an army).
But it's still nice to see these old favourites back in the saddle again, being sassy and quippy and having such utter faith in each other. And the fifth issue in the book is an absolute marvel. Focused on an unknown Slayer, with barely any of the original characters making an appearance, it's actually the most bittersweet and poignant and affecting of the entire compilation. I'm stoked to continue this series.
PS: The covers and inter-issue inserts are so gorgeous. Photorealistic, painting-style renditions of the characters. I dig it so much.
PPS: I've transcribed the last lines of the last issue, "The Chain", because welp the feelings:
(view spoiler)[But that's not the point. There's always a name. Lincoln, Hitler, Gandhi. The name can inspire terror, awe... sometimes great things. But there's millions of people go into making a name. People facing things they couldn't imagine they would. In the moments that matter, even our own names are just sounds people make to tell us apart.
What we are isn't that.
The real questions run deeper. Can I fight? Did I help? Did I do for my sisters? My comrades, children, slimy slug-clan... There is a chain, between each and every one of us. And like the man said, you either feel its tug or you ignore it.
I tried to feel it. I tried to face the darkness like a woman and I don't need any more than that. You don't have to remember me.
My second Punisher read, as he embarks on a one-man mission to take down the Gnucci crime family! It's a bit of a mixed bag, in that it doesn't seem aMy second Punisher read, as he embarks on a one-man mission to take down the Gnucci crime family! It's a bit of a mixed bag, in that it doesn't seem as good as the later MAX series, but there's still some good stuff here: Frank's cautious relationship with the other residents of his apartment building, his connection to them despite his intent to remain a brooding loner. The Punisher accidentally inspiring a wave of over-the-top vigilantes who want to emulate him in cleaning up their neighbourhoods (unsurprisingly, he is Not Impressed). And again, two cops mired in a corrupt department and trying to fix the broken status quo.
It's a bit too off-the-wall and kooky, but there's admittedly some darkly funny moments: Frank punching polar bears. Ma Gnucci as criminal queenpin & matriarch is hilarious. The Russian as an oddly jovial murdering monster.
It makes for a relatively enjoyable tone to intersperse the horror of the violence, but I still prefer the more srs feelsy storylines, which personally docks this to 3.5 or 4 stars.
But man, his neighbours. Frank's small touches of sentimentality, though he tries to come across as stone-cold. And the wonderful issue "The Devil by the Horns", which pairs him against Daredevil in a riveting scene known as "The Choice" and which was adapted pitch-perfectly to the Netflix series:
(Also, other small touches that made it into the TV show: Frank hiding in plain sight in a crappy diner, baseball cap pulled low over his face.)
I'm not a huge fan of Steve Dillon's art here -- I felt like his cartoony style worked a bit better in Hellblazer because John Constantine is a nonstop wisecracking troll, unlike the more grim straight-man that is Frank Castle -- but it's fine. And at least there are still Bradstreet covers! HE'S THE BEST....more
Whatever he was jabbering, it wasn't English. Pavla was Albanian--maybe he was too. But I'd know the Lord's Prayer in any language. Gave him a moment.
Whatever he was jabbering, it wasn't English. Pavla was Albanian--maybe he was too. But I'd know the Lord's Prayer in any language. Gave him a moment. To just before the line about forgiveness.
Originally read 5/25/16, reread today to refresh my memory for an actual review.
My first exposure to the Punisher was via the Netflix series and I ended up with a totally predictable Situation™ about Frank Castle as a result, so I sought out the books that are popularly regarded as his best. And lo, this one is great. I find him an especially fascinating character when he's like this: Frank as a big, quiet, protective man, standing up for those who can't fight for themselves, tearing his way through the bad guys because he's fuelled by anger and revenge for the underdog. I might continue with the MAX run in general, since it's well-regarded.
The Slavers strikes this nice balance of violence but also serious content. It's dark and grotesque; so much so that, thanks to the visual medium, I created an 'ultraviolence' shelf to warn people (I have a strong stomach! and some of the images really turned mine over!). But it's cathartic in that you really want to see these fuckers pay and are rooting for Frank throughout, and Ennis' writing and dialogue is good: It was in that moment that I realized something. A dull, blurred feeling that I'd had since this whole mess began, all of a sudden crystal clear. It had been a long, long time since I hated anyone the way I hated them.
Human slavery and sex trafficking is awful, a vicious cycle that can't be stopped, entire corrupt economies built on the backs of this suffering. The Slavers touches on that futility, and Frank knows it, but he'll still do his little part to make it a little bit better for the victims. Like a boy with his finger in the dam. The side characters are also good: ordinary citizens trying their best to do what they can, even if it's just two good-hearted cops taking a stand against corruption & homophobia & racism. (What great diversity here, too, with LGBT characters and women and people of colour backing up Frank's cast.)
Leandro Fernandez' art is great: moody and dark and realistic, and pairs well with Tim Bradstreet's covers (which are like... my favourite thing in comicdom). I'm an old fan of Garth Ennis' batshit nuts turns on Hellblazer, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect here, and dipping into the Punisher series via his writing was a great way for me to begin. 4.5 stars....more