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Mike Baron Archives - Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

1987 And All That: The Punisher #1-4

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Punisher1The Punisher #1-4 (Marvel) by Mike Baron, Klaus Janson, James Novak (#1), Ken Bruzenak (#2-4), Carl Potts

I’ve never been crazy about the Punisher. It’s not his morality (or lack thereof) I object to, though admittedly I do prefer it if my superheroes try to avoid using fatal tactics. Although…I guess he’s not a superhero in the strictest sense because he has no powers, but he wears a costume and has a codename and hangs out with lots of other Marvel super-folks, so I think the label still applies. At any rate, what has historically turned me off about the Punisher is that he’s seemed too simple to me, too one-note. Even the Hulk, a literal embodiment of instinctual rage, turns back into Bruce Banner sometimes, and thus has multiple facets to his personality. Frank Castle is always the Punisher and vice versa, his violent hatred for crime never subsiding or even being hidden under the mask of a secret identity. He’s so narrowly and determinedly focused on his personal war, it has never felt to me like he allows for much room for any storytelling beyond locating the next battle, the next villain to slay. I’m sure every creative team finds (or tries to find) their own angle, a way to freshen or expand Castle’s character and world so that he isn’t just the pissed off guy with huge guns all the time. Nonetheless, that’s the way he’s come across whenever I’ve encountered him in the past, and it has consistently failed to capture my interest.

Mike Baron and Klaus Janson’s The Punisher, which marks the first time the character ever had his own ongoing series, somehow manages to play up the single-mindedness I thought I disliked in Castle, yet still be a comicbook I enjoy. A lot of that is Janson, who does all the art from pencils to colors, producing strong work with several breakout panels over the course of these first four issues. Credit where it’s due, though, Baron writes Punisher as a man who’s not necessarily pleased with the life he’s chosen for himself, but commits to it 100% anyway, and that’s an approach I can get into. In his rare moments of self-reflection, Castle points out the same problems I just did above, namely that his life has no room for anything other than fight after fight after fight. He doesn’t exactly struggle with that, but he is at least aware of it, and somehow that tiny bit of acknowledgement, combined with Janson’s visuals, sold me on a hero I’d always avoided before. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 284: Steve Rude, Part 4 – Dark Horse Presents #34

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Rude, and the story is “Nexus: Into the Past, Chapter 10″ in Dark Horse Presents #34, which was published by Dark Horse and is cover dated March 2014. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 282: Steve Rude, Part 2 – Vanguard Illustrated #2 and GrimJack #6

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Rude, and the stories are “Sales Call, Part Two” in Vanguard Illustrated #2 and “Munden’s Bar” in GrimJack #6, the first of which was published by Pacific Comics and is cover dated January 1984 and the second of which was published by First Comics and is cover dated January 1985. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 281: Steve Rude, Part 1 – Nexus #1

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Rude, and the issue is Nexus (volume 1) #1, which was published by Capital Comics and is cover dated November 1981. These scans are from the trade Nexus: As It Happened, which was published by Rude Dude Productions in 2009. Enjoy!
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Trade paperbacks, older editions, and miscellaneous for April 2013

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“And for a while things were cold / They were scared down in their holes / The forest that once was green / Was coloured black by those killing machines”
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Trade paperbacks, older editions, and miscellaneous for December 2012

I think this way of reviewing the many trades and older stuff I get is good, so I will continue doing so. I hope it’s good for all of you!
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