Punisher #1

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Just how many Punisher #1s can there really be? By my count, Marvel’s latest Punisher #1 is actually the eighth. There’s the original 1985 mini-series, the original 1987 ongoing series, the 1995 "back down to just one title" ongoing series, the 1998 Marvel Knights mini-series involving angels and mystic guns, the 2000 Marvel Knights mini-series that brought him back to basics, the follow-up 2001 ongoing series, and then the 2004 ongoing series under the MAX mature readers imprint. And that’s not including, of course, all of the other titles over the years like Punisher War Journal (both of them), Punisher War Zone (both of them), Punisher 2099… you get the idea. All of this is really a long way of asking the question, can this latest Punisher #1 stand out amid an already pretty large herd?

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X-Men: Kingbreaker #1

Written by Christopher Yost
Penciled by Dustin Weaver
Inked by Jaime Mendoza
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I have to admit, it’s rather nice to see Marvel Comics having returned to embracing their outer space characters and settings these past few years. As a younger reader, I remember finding so many of their alien races and planets to be my cup of tea, and it was sad to see them all set aside for years. One of the latest books in this vein is X-Men: Kingbreaker, a follow-up to the stories that began with Uncanny X-Men‘s relatively recent return to outer space and the Shi’Ar Empire. But while it’s certainly enjoyable enough, I can’t help but feel that this first issue is slightly stalling for time.

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Captain America #43-44

Written by Ed Brubaker
Penciled by Luke Ross
Inked by Fabio Laguna
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

So let’s say that two years ago, you surprised a lot of readers by killing off one of your company’s iconic characters. And let’s say that you surprised even more readers by—at the end of an 18-issue follow-up—keeping that character dead, letting his old sidekick actually keep the mantle and title. What do you do next? In the case of writer Ed Brubaker and the comic book Captain America, apparently the answer is "business as usual." Fortunately for readers, that business involves writing really good stories.

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Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Jay Anacleto
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Have you ever felt like a comic (or a book, or a movie, or some other form of art) wasn’t meant for you? I couldn’t help but shake that feeling the entire time I was reading Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1, and that was a strange sensation. I remember buying the original issues of Marvels at my local comic book store back in the ’90s, and absolutely loving them. And you see, I think that’s the problem. With the first issue of Marvels: Eye of the Camera, it seems to me that Kurt Busiek and Jay Anacleto have created a comic that targets people who haven’t ever read Marvels.

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Thunderbolts #126

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Roberto de la Torre
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

The last time I read Thunderbolts regularly, the creative team was still Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley. So while it’s certainly been a while since I’ve checked in on Marvel’s resident team of super-villains, it’s certainly been hard to ignore them. Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato Jr.’s revamp of Thunderbolts was big enough news that I’m certainly familiar with the book’s current status with supervillains forced to work for the government. With the arrival of Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre as the new creative team, it sounded like a good a time as any to take a look and see firsthand just how it’s doing.

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Incredible Hercules #121

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Art by Clayton Henry
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I do like it when what sounds like a daft idea turns out to be utter brilliance. That’s the only way I think I can describe Marvel’s decision to take The Incredible Hulk and rename it The Incredible Hercules, starring the titular demi-god and his traveling companion, the boy ultra-genius Amadeus Cho. By all reports this should have been nothing short of a disaster, taking B- and C-grade characters and putting them in starring roles in a comic that used to be all about one of the company’s most recognizable faces. Instead, though, we’re getting what’s probably the funniest book at Marvel right now.

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Uncanny X-Men #502

Written by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker
Penciled by Greg Land
Inked by Jay Leisten
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

One of the very first superhero comics I ever read was Uncanny X-Men, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the comic. That’s not to say that I’m willing to give it a free pass, of course; I’ve had quite a few years in which I’ve given the book a shot, decided it wasn’t for me, and left it aside. Happily, right now makes me feel for the first time since Grant Morrison stopped writing the X-Men that there is a book that is aimed squarely at me, and for that I have Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker to thank. Now if only Terry Dodson would come on board sooner rather than later, I think I’d be set.

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X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1

Written by James Asmus, Mike Carey, C.B. Cebulski
Penciled by Chris Burham, Michael Ryan, David Yardin
Inked by Chris Burham, Victor Olazaba, David Yardin
40 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Is it just me or the X-Men trapped in a never-ending cycle of subtitled stories and eras? Since October of last year, we’ve had Messiah Complex, Divided We Stand, and now Manifest Destiny. And, not content to just slap the logo on all of the mutant books, there’s also X-Men: Manifest Destiny, a four-issue anthology about some of the mutant characters and how they travel or deal with the move to San Francisco. So far, that’s proved to be just about as variable in quality as you can imagine it would be.

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Invincible Iron Man #1-4

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Salvador Larroca
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

It took me almost a month to get around to seeing the Iron Man movie. The character’s just never been that terribly interesting to me; there just was never quite that hook that grabbed my attention and imagination for more than a few minutes. So when I finally did see the film (due to all the positive word-of-mouth), I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of fun I had seeing it. That’s actually also how I feel about Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s take on the character with their new series The Invincible Iron Man. It’s only taken me four months, but I finally sat down and read them—and I’m actually really looking forward to the fifth issue.

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Criminal Vol. 2 #4

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
40 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

There are some books on the market that I think people take for granted—it’s out there, it’s entertaining, it will be waiting for you whenever you’re ready for another dose. So often, though, those books are the ones that people should be talking up a lot more. Books like Criminal aren’t just something you should stop by and read every once in a while, they’re books that you should celebrate every time a new issue hits the stands. With Criminal Vol. 2 #4 now out, it’s the start of a brand-new story—so what are you waiting for?

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