The Punisher 2: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: Comic book readers are probably familiar with the idea that “Batman always wins” – he’s an inevitable force of nature. I think that The Punisher is similar in this respect. Frank Castle is primarily a hunter, but when the roles are reversed he’s as wild as a cornered animal, finding any and every way to disarm opponents and escape. Such is the case in Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski’s The Punisher 2.

Frank Castle isn’t a complicated man – at least he probably doesn’t consider himself to be. He’s got two rules: kill criminals, don’t kill cops. That second part tends to make Frank’s life a little more difficult, as he has to get creative when he is evading New York’s finest – as well as its superheroes. Continue reading

Depth of Field in Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Dead Ends 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I remember someone once telling me that they mostly evaluate a comics artist based on the detail of their backgrounds. That always felt like an odd facet to fixate on (especially with so many others to factor in), but it’s hard to deny that richly detailed backgrounds are dazzling. It allows artists to flex not only their attention to detail, but their capacity for deep perspective, lending a sense of lived-in reality to their settings. But it’s also time consuming — even the most detail-prone artists will pick their moments, reserving sprawling cityscapes and the likes for big splash pages, and making choices that compress the depth of field elsewhere. Time is an understandable driver of level-of-detail, but it doesn’t always coincide with storytelling in a meaningful way. With The Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends 1, artist Ramon Rosanas finds a much more thematically resonant way to use his depth of field, lending Charles Soule’s villain reveal an unsettling otherworldliness. Continue reading

The Responsibility of the Witness in Daredevil 605

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 605 begins with Wilson Fisk raising from his hospital bed to attempt to regain control of New York City. Even dressed in a hospital gown and dragging an IV pole behind him, Fisk backs Foggy into a corner. It looks like Fisk is going to get his way, but ends up collapsing to the ground — it turns out that he wasn’t well enough to exert himself so much. But he made a choice to stop letting Matt Murdock run New York City, rather that simply witnessing it from the safety of his hospital room. While the sun sets on this Wilson Fisk story after three pages, the remainder of the issue plays out that same fundamental question over and over again: what responsibility does a witness have to interfere with whatever they are witnessing? Continue reading

Cypher Drives the Action in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 3

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 3

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

One of my favorite insights in film criticism is that a shot can only have one subject. The subject can be (and often is) an individual, but the fascinating thing about a two-shot or group shot is that the individuals can’t be the subjects of those shots, so instead, the subject is their relationship. That is, when two characters are occupying a single shot, the subject of the shot isn’t either one of them, but their relationship to one another, whether it’s familial, antagonistic, friendly, or romantic. And I think we might be able to say something similar about ensemble stories. Or, at least, that the subject of an ensemble story can’t be several individuals. The subject can be anything from a character to a relationship to a theme, but there can be only one. So what is the subject if Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost? Is it Daredevil, our narrator (and most recognizable character)? Is it Frank McGee and Misty Knight’s budding romance? Is it the group dynamics of this makeshift team? With issue three, Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni seem to have settled on an unexpected option as their subject: Cypher. Continue reading

Who Controls the Page in Daredevil 604?

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“I’m gonna need the room.”

Father Jordan, Daredevil 604

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 604 is all about controlling space. Within the world of the story, that’s about dispersing satanic mists, or driving out swarms of ninjas. On the metatextual level, that’s about which character commands the space on the page. With the introduction of the Order of the Dragon (or Ordo Dragonum, if you’re nasty), the pages become thick with both action and potential, but it’s still on Daredevil to take control of every square inch of the city… and by extension, every inch of the page. Continue reading

A Mid-Issue Shift Elevates Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 2

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 2

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Listen, I know there were crime procedurals before Law & Order (and there have been plenty since), but that show was such a mainstay of my formative pop-culture years that I can’t help but think of it every time I encounter a new fictional criminal investigation. What’s remarkable to me about that show is how entertaining it could be in spite of having an entirely rote structure (it was so set in stone, in fact, that they decided to enshrine it in the very title of the series). That is, the drama was never in whether they caught the culprit (they always did), or whether they would be convicted (they were found guilty or pled out the vast majority of the time), but in how they did it — or more precisely who was doing it. Individual details of the case might be interesting, but only inasmuch as they prompted quips from Briscoe or righteous indignation from McCoy. The procedural is an excuse to watch detectives do what they do best, so giving those detectives big, distinct personalities makes or breaks the whole exercise. In this way, Charles Soule has truly stacked the deck in his favor, cramming four larger-than-life investigators into tight quarters and giving them a hard case to chew on. Continue reading

Matt Murdock Holds the Puppet Strings in Daredevil 603

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Matt Murdock’s modern history is a delightful roller coaster of changing status quo: he’s been a vigilante, the kingpin of crime, a vessel of The Hand and now Mayor of New York City. In Daredevil 603 Charles Soule draws upon these experiences to highlight the fact that Matt is a master strategist and impressive leader. “The Man Without Fear” preys upon others’ fears in order to manipulate them. Continue reading

Mind Wipes and Missteps in Infinity Countdown: Daredevil 1

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Infinity Countdown is well under way which means…time for some tie-ins! Written by the Infinity Countdown helmer Gerry Duggan, Infinity Countdown: Daredevil 1 focuses on the current owner of the Mind Gem: Daredevil “villain” Turk Barrett. Many readers scratched their heads when it was revealed that low-level criminal Turk was in possession of an Infinity Stone. While Duggan highlights why Daredevil is a good pairing for the Mind Gem, the issue lacks consequence. Continue reading

The Difference Between Mayoral Action and Superhero Action in Daredevil 602

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“New York City’s uniformed protectors are under attack by the Hand.” It’s a straightforward premise, one with both obvious drama and an obvious solution: superheroes fight the ninjas. But as of Daredevil 601, Matt Murdock is more than just a superhero; he’s also the mayor of New York. Suddenly those simple solutions don’t seem quite as simple. Charles Soule, Mike Henderson, Matt Villa and Clayton Cowles’ Daredevil 602 illustrate the difference between the streamlined drama of the superhero and the complicated drama of the mayor. Continue reading

Assembling the Team in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 1

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s something fun about watching a team put itself together. It lends urgency to everyone’s presence, making their utility to the team explicit in a way that isn’t inherently true of pre-existing teams. That is, while Iceman is coming on this X-Men mission whether or not anything needs to be iced, Danny Ocean is only adding someone to the team if their skills are essential to the plan. With so many pre-existing teams in comics, we don’t always get to see purpose-built teams with quite so narrow a focus as the one in Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni’s Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost, which is exactly what makes its first issue so fun. Continue reading