Archive for February, 2011

Jason Aaron is kicking my ass. A review of Punisher Max 10.

I was arguing about Wolverine with some friends the other day.  He has the tendency to get pigeon-holed into revenge story after revenge story.  The Punisher’s a similar character.  There’s usually not as much vengeance, but damn can he get repetitive.  Even Garth Ennis’s 60 issue run on Punisher Max recycled the same formula on almost every story.  They’re some great comics, but a lot like the blues, you’ve got to appreciate the subtleties.

Jason Aaron’s current relaunch of The Punisher with artist Steve Dillon hasn’t completely turned the Punisher on his head, but it looks like it could.  After Garth Ennis’s great humanization in the last volume, Aaron neatly sidestepped the mistakes other writers made trying to pick up in Ennis’s shadow.  This Punisher is a force of nature.  Aaron understands Frank Castle enough to avoid those pages and pages of inner monologue.  His Punisher is a man of few words.  He’s not as sympathetic as he was in the Ennis run, but he doesn’t need to be.  This Punisher is an anti-hero through and through.  If you’ve read Aaron’s rez-cop drama Scalped, you know he knows his way around a good anti-hero.  If you haven’t, well, just take my word for it.

The new Punisher Max doesn’t connect with the rest of the Marvel Universe, but does integrate Marvel characters for The Punisher to tussle (and murder) with.  Wilson Fisk is his usual self, but Aaron’s Bullseye is one of the few I’ve enjoyed reading.

The world’s greatest assassin was never a character I liked, except the issue of Daredevil where he got stabbed in the head, and the issue of Thunderbolts where he got crippled.  He’s supposed to be the most evil, amoral man ever.  I get that, but it doesn’t make him interesting.  It makes him bland.  His personality never got much deeper than “I like to kill people, especially if it’s Daredevil’s girlfriend.”  He was always just so content with everything, especially after Warren Ellis’s Thunderbolts run.  Ellis boiled Bullseye down to his most basic components.  The guy who lived to kill was now doing that and only that.  Sure, it’s creepy when Mike Deodato’s on art, but every writer to use the character after Ellis has just been miming the same monotonous shit over and over.

Enter Jason Aaron.  With an out-of-continuity universe to work in, Aaron’s made Bullseye an interesting person, and made him scarier in the process.  This Bullseye might be a murdering psychopath, but he’s human too, as we watch him get more and more frustrated as he tries to get inside Frank Castle’s head.  The whole “I need to become you so I can kill you” thing might seem cheesy, but Aaron pulls it off with such style, you can’t not admire it.  It’s actually kind of funny when it’s not terrifying.

Steve Dillon is also doing some great work here.  The facial expressions are fucking perfect.  Kevin Maguire isn’t even at this level.  Check out this page-

It might not look like much out of context, but that’s the greatest smile I’ve ever seen.

It’s odd that I’m raving about a comic 5/6 the way through the story, but you need to be aware of how fucking good this is.  Ennis still has 50 issues of great stories over Aaron, but damn if this current incarnation isn’t on its way to being the best Punisher comic ever.


Party Down

I don’t watch a lot of TV shows, because, TV can be a desolate landscape.  Also, I don’t have cable, or even broadcast TV anymore thanks to that digital broadcasting.  However, I do have Netflix, and with Netflix comes internet streaming!  Thanks to this I’ve caught up on valuable episodes of King of the Hill, and discovered Community is actually a really good show.  Not to sound like a shill, but this streaming stuff is handy.  One show I’ve recently fallen for, thanks to its Netflix availability is the recently canceled “Party Down.”  Party Down follows the goings on of a Hollywood catering company as they go from job to job, hi jink to hi jink.  It’s got Jane Lynch, pretty boy Adam Scott, and the greatest actor of our generation, Martin Starr.

Only the Cran-Man can out act him.

Party Down belongs to the post modern family of sitcom, with no laugh track, more character based humor, and characters that manage to actually change and evolve.  (What a novel concept.)  Luckily, there’s no fakeumentary handheld cameras. Those things get old fast.  But that’s all moot.  What makes Party Down a great show is how goddamn depressing it is.  The catering crew is comprised from striving actors, failed actors, and one striving sci-fi novelist, who of course, is played by Martin Starr.  The manager, played by Ken Marino, just wants to open a chain restaurant, and he can’t even get that off the ground.  Adam Scott’s Henry is the only exception.  He’s done with acting after a popular beer commercial and wants to move on with his life.

I’m only five episodes in, but I plan on finishing the show.  This is some great stuff.  Not many shows have the skill to successfully mix funny and miserable, but Party Down gets away with it.  Scrubs this aint.  I’d recommend it to the Freaks and Geeks fans.