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Blood In The Gutters: Week’s New Crime Comics – Lone Ranger, Nowhere Man, Punisher, Fatale
This week the UPS man will be delivering these fine sequential art projects to your comic shop: corny old crime-fighters get a new lease on relevance; crime in the future sounds like stuff we’ve already seen in the past; Frank Castle and Matt Murdock engage in an honest exchange of opinion; Brubaker and Phillips are so good, it’s scary.
Lone Ranger #1–Along with Dynamite’s Zorro title, Lone Ranger is one of those books I never thought I’d much care for. Both the Lone Ranger and Zorro still kinda stick in my mind as the boring black-and-white shit I used to sit through in the early days of the Disney Channel until they put more cartoons on. But following in the tradition of this delightful post-modern era, Dynamite has given these stodgy old characters over to creators who seek to separate the chaff of the old cornball serials from the wheat of these lasting figures in American folklore. Brett Matthews’s scripting work on the first Dynamite Lone Ranger series in particular was a shining example of this: adding dimension to the Lone Ranger by inflicting deeper pain upon him, but never overdoing it with the ennui, as many, many, many writers sought to do after Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Also, the racist subtext of Tonto found in the old days has been completely turned on its ear. This new on-going is not written by Matthews, but we do have Ande Parks, whose work I talked up a few weeks ago, and I have every confidence Parks will deliver the goods. Also, I included the Francesco Francavilla cover here rather than the Alex Ross one because, frankly, I think Ross is overrated and Francavilla sorely underrated. If you disagree, you can tell your story walking.
Nowhere Man #1–I don’t think I’d ever go so far as to say I am a fan of Marc Guggenheim’s, but I dunno, something about the guy makes me feel…safe, for lack of a better word. He’s been around as long as I’ve been collecting comics, and he wrote a big chunk of Wolverine when I was a young buck. I’m not more than passingly familiar with his movie and TV work (that Green Lantern movie looked like a big snore), but y’know, he strikes me as real workman-like writer, and I don’t mean that to be faint praise. But this book, man, it just sounds like Minority Report. This is a science-fiction book, but like a lotta genre stuff, its plot has its roots in crime. Way in the future, everybody has been infected with some techno-virus which puts them under the control of the Omnimind. Therefore, all crime has been eliminated…until it isn’t! A violent murder is committed, and in order to solve it, a child is genetically altered so he can work outside of the Omnimind. I would not be the least surprised if this security measure somehow turns on this version of Big Brother, and we all learn a lesson about free will. Right? So yeah, Minority Report. It’s also a theme kinda explored in RoboCop, but if you want a comic that kinda follows these lines, but is way more crime-y and really good, check out The Last Days of American Crime by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini. This still might be good for a lark.
The Punisher #7–If the synopsis of this book tells me anything, it’s that this issue is gonna jump back in the storyline a bit, leaving us hanging off last issue’s cliff for another month. Which is fine, because as usual, Greg Rucka is pretty damn expert at heightening suspense. The synopsis is one sentence: “One long ago night, as the Punisher battled Daredevil, one cop’s life was forever changed.” Using my succinct powers of deduction, I do believe we are going to take a peek into the back-story of Detective Oscar Clemons, the Morgan Freeman to Detective Walter Bolt’s Brad Pitt in this current Punisher book. Bolt and Clemons are the two detectives assigned to the on-going Punisher investigation(s). From issue one (I believe), we found that Bolt is actually secretly working with the Punisher, in a weird blackmail/debt-of-honor situation. Clemons, on the other hand, is virulently anti-Frank, and since we’ve already seen the night the Punisher forever changed Bolt’s life, I’m guessing this issue will tell us why Clemons has such a beef with the one-man army corps that is Frank Castle. Add to this that Daredevil has also always been one of Frank’s biggest detractors/nemeses, I’m guessing we’ll see some parallels there as well. Good times all around, whether my guesses here are correct or not.
Fatale #1–Hot-digggity-damn, this is finally coming out. We at Criminal Complex have been rubbing our hands together greedily for this book since it was announced at NYCC back in October. From writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, creators of Criminal, possibly the finest crime comic of the century thus far (most recent arc “The Last of the Innocent” being my absolute favorite of the year, only barely edging out Loose Ends), Fatale promises to be a perfect blend of hard-boiled crime and Lovecraftian horror. There is absolutely no other creative team I would trust with this, except perhaps Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (and that’s only a perhaps). I don’t normally hit the comic shop until Saturday, but with this book and a new issue of The Boys, I may actually get myself down there tomorrow. If that’s not enough to convey how much you need to get in on this book, then I don’t know what to do with you.