REVIEW: The Punisher Vol. 2, Secret Avengers Vol. 1 and Lazarus Vol. 2

FullSizeRender (58)The Punisher Vol. 2: Border Crossing – Nathan Edmondson, Kevin Maurer, Mitch Gerads, Carmen Carnero and Phil Noto

Frank Castle is in trouble, he’s injured and has not only gang lords after him but Crossbones as well. Things get interesting when he runs into Black Widow but whether their meeting will be good for Frank, who knows? All Frank knows is that he has to get back to LA before it burns to the ground.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed volume one of The Punisher (I mainly picked it up because I’ve seen the various Punisher movies – check out The Punisher: War Zone – and because I liked the art). I really like Frank Castle and his attitude towards criminals, he is a vigilante but when he’s not around things are decidedly worse for the general public. Volume One ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger so I was keen to see what happened to Frank next.

I really liked his encounter with Black Widow and how his story entwined with that of her (as seen in the series by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto) but you don’t need to be reading Black Widow to know what’s going on (though I highly recommend it because it’s great). They’re interesting characters to have together as they are both comfortable with doing bad things for the right reason.

All the threads that were set up in volume one are coming together and painting a complicated picture – but not too complicated. There’s the strand with the drug lords and the strand with the new Howling Commandos but Frank (and you as the reader) is slowly starting to join the dots. Everything hasn’t become clear quite yet so I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how it all pans out in the next volume.

I still like the art a lot but the way the panels are ordered so they suddenly go across a double page spread sometimes threw me a bit. 4/5.

 

FullSizeRender (57)Secret Avengers Vol. 1: Let’s Have a Problem – Ales Kot and Michael Walsh

Maria Hill has put together a team that can do stuff that both SHIELD and the Avengers can’t. That team includes Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, MODOK (a former villain now employed by SHIELD to invent stuff) and Hawkeye – who Hill didn’t want to be a part of the team but he sort of fell into things.

I love this book. It’s quirky, it’s funny and the characters each have a moment to shine and let their personalities come though. Let’s Have a Problem made me laugh out loud (which I then turned into a cough because I was reading it on a train) and it made me feel for the characters. Events in the book have repercussions, characters get hurt – whether physically or mentally and it’s interesting and refreshing to see that be addressed. There’s intrigue and politics but then there’s the moments of humour that make it feel better.

I hadn’t read a comic featuring Spider-Woman before and Jessica Drew was a great character and I liked her and Black Widow’s friendship (yay for awesome ladies!) If you’ve read my reviews/blog/Twitter before you’ll know I love Hawkeye and he is my favourite Marvel character ever so I love how he’s written in Secret Avengers. Clint Barton is a walking disaster and he is funny and very similar to the character in Matt Fraction’s book.

The art is super quirky and interesting as well. I love how the pages are set out and the colours. All of this makes Secret Avengers Vol. 1 a very fun book and I can’t wait to see what happens next. 5/5

 

FullSizeRender (59)Lazarus Volume Two – Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Santi Arcas

Forever Carlye is still protecting her family in the post-apocalyptic world but they are not an easy group of people to protect, especially in the busy city of Denver where the Lift Selection is about to take place. Meanwhile, after losing everything in a flood Joe and Bobbie Barret are making the 500 miles trip to Denver in the hope that their children will be able to make something better for themselves.

I liked Volume 1 but this arc of the story I was unsure about. You learn more about Forever and her childhood and her relationship with her father which was interesting and made Forever more compelling. But the narrative in the present wasn’t so interesting. Things seemed to happen both very fast and very slow. The story of Joe and Bobbie Barret and their children was pretty great as it was good to see the world from the poorer citizens’ perspective but that seemed to be the only story in the book. Previous plot threads relating to Forever and her family from Volume One seemed abandoned and in terms of her character growth there didn’t seem much of it.

When I finished it I just felt like nothing much had happened. I liked new characters like Michael (Joe and Bobbie’s son) but in terms of the overall narrative and plot threads, there wasn’t much that was interesting. 3/5

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