With what promised to be an excellent series, Marvel Universe vs The Punisher had a rather disappointing end with this week’s #4. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected more, but I enjoyed the earlier issues so much that I really had raised my hopes. Even the Punisher being defeated would have been better than the ‘Everybody hates me, don’t worry it’s mutual, I’ll just keep shooting things’ ending that we were delivered.
Wasn’t the Punisher, when he first appeared, a character that although we may sympathise, we should despise? What does this victory demonstrate really? Is the House of Ideas (and by extension our world) in moral freefall? In a battle between the Punisher and the Marvel Universe, shouldn’t the universe win? So much for feel-good escapism! Heck, I would have accepted Galactus consuming the planet finally, and Frank becoming his herald! Now that does have potential – Frank, Herald of Galactus!
After the chaotic Fall Of The Hulks storyline, that was not the easiest to follow (any shipping issues aside, even with the issues all lined up, it’s not the easiest storyline to follow. However the new status quo (for as long as it lasts) is easy on the eyes (and brain) yet nicely multi-layered with histories both new and old, combining the appearance of sixties kitsch with solid storytelling. Having grown up with the Hulk, I really feel for him here in this new Hulk family, where the word dysfunctional would be a compliment.
X-Men Curse of the Mutants, despite my earlier criticism, is certainly exceeding my expectations. The spin-off issues make sense, the threat appears overwhelming but slow, and even more the whole epic is not taking over every single X-title, leaving us with a choice. The latest? Dracula is now resurrected and that is about as far as the storyline has gone. It’s nice to see the X-Men against a more central Marvel backdrop, and good to see Blade back as well.
Shadowland however does not score so well on my rankings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun, I like the characters involved, especially throwing in the Ghost Rider who just had a major plot development yet he is hardly the character one would expect to be in this mix. Yet here the spin-offs have spun maybe a little too far from the central plot, looking more like a marketing ploy rather than essential to the story. I hope the writers will prove me wrong, but a few months in, it doesn’t look hopeful.
Of course, every story is a marketing ploy, that’s the point. But I don’t like my face rubbed in it.
On the other side of the isle, the latest issue of Brightest Day keeps the promise of the series going, and the theories being thrown around about Firestorm are, well, cool, I don’t want to give anything away. Interestingly, there is a slight re-interpretation of previous continuity but in a good way, adding a new layer rather than contradicting the past. I love to see Firestorm in the spotlight, his one hundred issue run was one of my favourites of all time. Since that title was cancelled however, Ronnie Raymond rather had a poor deal in terms of characterisation and was morphed into a whiny selfish self-centred failure. I pray we will see the old Ronnie return in these pages, because it’s about time.