by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Charles Soule, Art by by Steve Dillon
Published: September 2013
Two weeks ago when writing the review for issue 11 I was complaining that I did not have anything to complain about. I had just read the whole of the current series in one go and having hated the art in the first 6 issues, my one big complaint disappeared because over the following 6 issues the artist changed for the better. Well, I had to put that into writing didn’t I, because that is exactly how I have wound up putting the hoodoo on it. Issue 12 has arrived and we are back to Steve Dillon in all his wooden angular ‘glory’. If anyone wants an example of just why the art is bad just open to the title page and look at the face of Red Hulk and he face of the Punisher. Apart from the colour difference and the yellow glowy eyes the line work is absolutely the same on both of them to the point that they have an identical hair line and they are even pulling the same weird grimace.
After taking a deep breath, and after a fair amount of disappointed muttering to myself, I set aside my dislike for the art to try and give the comic as a whole a fair ‘shake of the stick’. The story itself is not terrible; the problem is that apart from the fact this appears to be an issue of ‘The Punisher’ with little if any Thunderbolts in sight, it also appears to have completely lost any real connection to previous issues. This side plot of a vendetta between Castle and Orestez could have easily been a Punisher one shot for all the value to the ongoing story it added.
The jump from the present, to a single page in the past, back to the present was confusing to say the least, not to mention the fact that those two presents are in fact not the same present. There is clearly at least days, if not weeks between the two events, but there is no way of telling this without reading it through a few times. Before I start on some of the more ‘henious’ crimes of the art, and there is no way I am letting some of them get away, there is a huge glaring one connected to this time skipping. At the start of comic, in the supposed present, we have a much younger looking blond haired Orestez who has clearly had plastic surgery and looks nothing like the Orestez from the previous comic. The previous comic was drawn by a different person, so we can accept a little discrepancy between the two, and it would not be a problem if the next time we are supposedly in the present, he looks exactly the same as he did in the previous comic and nothing like he did earlier on in this comic.
Let us get one thing straight; I hate the art. I read through the comic to try and get to grips with just the story and that is weak and uninspiring. I tried to look at this as part of a bigger series and it shows little to no connect to the ongoing series. Did I mention that I hated the art? Recently I have been having conversations with other comic aficionados about my fairly hard-line approach to comic art styles that I do and do not like. Therefore, rather than me blindly saying I do not like this ‘style’ of art, I will stick to clear, obvious and hideous affronts to the human form, irrelevant of style; but where do I start? I could start with the fact that without his clothes on Frank’s neck disappears and he has a body shape that would not even fit into the clothes he was wearing earlier in the issue. I could mention that despite having a far more feminine form than in previous issues, Elektra still has broad enough shoulders to make most men jealous. Or better yet, I could point out that the Punishers red chest icon apparently has been fitted with its own light source so that even when he is in full silhouette it is lit up perfectly.
There are similar crimes against art on every page in the comic and I could go through the comic panel by panel like this, but I have saved the best (worst) to last and will not bore you any further. As always, I will not give away spoilers for people who have not read the comic yet, but I am not giving anything away when I say that the Punisher makes a kill near the end of the comic. The moment is quite important for the story, and, it is made with a head butt; but not any normal head butt, a sideways jumping head butt that separates and breaks the opponent’s neck. Frankly, it is so silly and so badly executed that it is actually hilarious and it is worth the price of the comic just to see how bad it is.
I was vaguely interested to see where the story was going in the series, but not at the expense of having to put up with this clunky, wooden art style. I will pick the comic up in two weeks, but if it says Dillon on the cover, then it is going back on the (metaphorical) shelf.