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Blood In The Gutters: Week’s New Crime Comics – Six Guns, Scalped, Steed And Mrs. Peel, Punisher
This week down at your local comic-book retailer: The final shoot-out; Your days on the rez is numbered; Jolly good, then; Welcome back to 616, Frank.
Six Guns #5 (of 5)–Well, no more of me breaking your balls to buy this. At least until the trade comes out. Overall, this wasn’t Diggle’s strongest script, I don’t think, but still very good, and hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of this updated Western characters in the future. I dunno how well this book’s sales have been, but I’ve got a sinking feeling we might not. Which would suck not just because I’ve come to enjoy these characters, but also it’s these sorts of books that I think give constant advantage to Marvel over DC. Marvel, like DC, has their big cosmic stories, their overblown crossovers, their flagships. But Marvel has got a lot of littler books like these that draw a smaller audience, perhaps, but that’s still cash in hand. Since DC has started the New 52, they have even less of this sorta thing to go on. Ah, well.
Scalped #56–Speaking of books ending, this issue marks the beginning of the final arc of this, the best Vertigo book on the stands today. This news caught me a bit off guard, which is particularly strange because the way this book’s been going, it only makes sense. Dash has been outed as a Fed, Red Crow had to kill his beloved right-hand, a real sheriff has made the scene. Shit has been hitting the fan, but I suppose I just figured Aaron and Guéra would figure a way out just as they have for all the other corners they’ve painted these characters into. That, or I just really hoped so. But all good things must come to an end, and Vertigo books in particular seem to hover around 60 issues being the best possible number.
Steed and Mrs. Peel #2–Hey, why didn’t you guys tell me this was a reprint? I suppose I should have figured the minute I saw the art, which is great, but does have that grainy, newsprint feel. Still, this is a nice addition to my Grant Morrison collection, which wasn’t even aware it was short this three issue series. Like I said before, I’ve yet to really get into the original TV series, but I’m not finding this book at all difficult to follow despite that. I’m certain there are references to the show that I’m missing, but Morrison is certainly a canny enough writer to work that sort of thing into the script without being cute about it. I’ve lately been thinking how much I dislike series characters, which is completely weird given that I devour superhero comics. Which probably shows that my dislike (for lack of a softer word) for such stems from being left out in the cold. No worries about that here. Obviously, you’d wanna start with the first issue, but your local comics shop oughtta still have it, and if not, the one across town probably does. Since it’s only a three-parter, I’d suggest just buying the single issues, as that’d probably be the better deal. But what do I know.
The Punisher by Greg Rucka premiere hardcover volume 1–We are entering the fourth decade of this character, and based on that alone, we’d have every right to be nervous. The earliest Punisher stories are actually about as hardcore as bronze age stories ever got. That level of quality may have had to do with the fact that Frank wasn’t as ubiquitous within the Marvel Universe as he would become in the late ’80s/early ’90s. That was when things started to suck pretty hard. Marvel’s attempts in the late 1990s to bolster the character back to his lofty sales heights where nothing short of ill-informed and supernaturally lame. But then of course, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon brought us their Welcome Back, Frank, and it has been smooth sailing pretty much ever since; even when Rick Remender introduced us to Franken-Castle, it was actually a fun little story (albeit on paper it sounds as ridiculous as anything John Ostrander or Christopher Golden ever pulled). And now we have Greg Rucka, back in the fold with Marvel for the first time (beyond one-shots and fill-ins) in a long while. Rucka treats the character like the best Punisher writers always have: with a heavy dollop of seriousness and (what I’d call the key ingredient) a supporting cast that is actually more well-rounded than the protagonist. At 20 bucks for a nice hardcover, you could do a lot worse.