Frank Castle! The Punisher! Everyone’s favorite unethical-ethical teams up with Spider-man for some hardcore drug-busting and head cracking. But speaking of justice, did the story really do any? To top that off, what about the short, six-page story featuring J.J.J. and the lowlife Bookie? Zeb Wells doses Amazing with some old fashioned, callous Punisher, but is there any relevance to why the war-journal-writhing-antihero is used in a mainstream issue of our favorite wall-crawler?
Old Huntin’ Buddies
WRITER: Zeb Wells
ART: Paulo Rivera
COLOR ART: Javier Rodriguez and Dean White
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit
A Bookie Minute Mystery
WRITER: Joe Kelly
ART: Barry Kitson
INKS: Mark Farmer
COLORS: Dean White
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit
”Old Huntin’ Buddies” Part 1 and 2-
Some diehard-desparados are concluding a mysterious drug deal that seems to be going well…until the Punisher uses a mechanical gun-firing tank to take out everything and everyone in sight. Meanwhile, good old Peter Parker is trying to pass his taxi driving exam, but to no avail. I guess Peter is used to traveling through the city as his alter ego, via “web service.” With no luck and a heap of work to be done, Peter haplessly walks through the streets of New York and fortuitously bumps into Frank Castle.
Spider-man follows Castle to an abandoned warehouse in Queens, where he learns that the Punisher is trying to stop Moses Magnum from dealing his Gamma irradiated Mutant Growth Hormone(man, that is a mouth full) to the crime underworld. Castle knocks Spidey unconscious with some loud “EEEEs” just when Magnum arrives and takes the Punisher.
Spidey awakens and rescues Castle, who had intentionally planned for the web-head to rescue him, while also trying to stop Castle from mindlessly slaughtering the dealers on a boat. Just when the battle seems won, and Magnum rendered harmless, Castle shoots old Moses and jumps ship, leaving Spider-man to drive the boat and get Magnum to a hospital. However, we learn that not only can Peter not drive a taxi, but he cannot operate a boat either. Try to hold in all that blood Moses, it may be awhile before the old web-spinner gets the thing going!
“A Bookie Minute Mystery”
The meek and lowly Bookie arrives at J. Jonah Jameson’s house, claiming that Jameson is the Spider-tracer Killer. Laying down a handful of seemingly idiotic evidence, the gambler is shown J.J.’s surgical scars from his recent heart attack. Then the former publisher proceeds shocking the Bookie with a taser. Just then, however, as the poor sap lays twitching and shaking, he realizes the true identity of the culprit responsible for the string of murders framing our favorite hero.
LIKES: The art was great for both stories, the writing not bad either, and the fact that the “Spider-tracer” killing mystery is finally being moved forward.
DISLIKES: There just wasn’t anything special or over-the-top for the team-up, the story was well done and coherent, but lacked originality.
Life can be a war zone, and for Frank Castle, every day is. Yes, readers are immersed into the dark recesses of the Punisher’s antiheroism in this issue, but where is the relevance, the brilliance needed to make this tale stand out from the other truck load of comic team-ups. Take the recent issue of The Invincible Iron Man, number seven. Spidey plays a huge role, to the point that one cannot tell if they are reading an Iron Man comic or an issue of Brand New Day. Matt Fraction did a great job of giving purpose to the story, instead of just another lousy cameo or supporting character role for the web-head. He even established some details that needed to be seen because of the continuity displacements of Brand New Day, strictly pertaining to the events of Civil War, that rendered Spidey hopeless, and revealed his identity.
But this review isn’t about Iron Man, or even miscellaneous issues featuring Spider-man. It is about Amazing, Spidey’s main nook. It is obvious that the team-up for this issue was a marketing gimmick. As we all know, comic book companies, let alone Marvel, tend to dish out titles of a particular series when that character or hero has an upcoming movie. Punisher: War Zone, Marvel’s revamp film of the character, is hitting theaters this December, and already Punisher is getting a @#*%load of new titles and mini series being launched, including the prominent return of Garth Enis to the helm. Heck, I was looking at a Diamond Previews and saw cute, little Mini-Mate figurines based on the movie.
The point I am trying to establish, is that there was nothing special about the issue. It has great, simply exquisite art from Paulo Rivera, and good writing from Zeb Wells. However, after reading the last several issues of Well’s Venom: Dark Origin, I was kind of expecting more. I mean, Wells really has done an excellent job with that mini series, giving Eddie Brock’s villainous alter ego Venom deep characterization and audible motive, something I think Venom always lacked as a villain spurned from the McFarlane era 90s. Not to dwell with this other title, but Wells gave the series a pace reminiscent of the horror genre and really established the conception and ideology behind Venom compared to Spider-man; a villain who uses his newly gained power for greed, the same path that Spidey would have taken if not for his Uncle Ben’s legendary words and utter demise. What happened to that Zeb Wells? What happened to the Zeb Wells who used a great writing style and meticulous pace?
And what about the Kelly story? Did it bring about anything? Not really, except for allowing a mystery that has been bubbling since the dawn of Brand New Day to finally move on, something that should have been done a while ago.
I did particularly like Peter’s characterization. Wells DID do a great job of bringing about the archetypical “bad luck” that Peter always has. I especially loved the ending, with Spidey accidentally turning on the window wipers.
And did anyone have a bit of deja vu? Isn’t the premise of this story very similar to the novel Spider-man: Down These Mean Streets, a book by Keith R.A. DeCandido. I never much cared for the book, so it wasn’t memorable for me except the fact that SPIDEY WAS TRYING TO STOP KIDS FROM DEALING GAMMA IRRADIATED DRUGS AND TURNING INTO LITTLE HULKS!
I give this issue a 3.0. It wasn’t bad, but if publishers want their sales to boom, they need to have some originality.
The cover gets a 5 out of 5. Even the Variant cover by Buscema. That was cool to see his art again.