Monday, June 04, 2012

I've probably mentioned before that I haven't been a fan of Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers run. Avengers: Prime was an exception that proved the rule: it was set in Asgard, outside of Bendis's usual settings; it only had three Avengers to focus on and they didn't all sound like each other this time; and it had great art from Alan Davis. That mini and today's issues make me wonder if maybe the artist wasn't part of the problem I had with Bendis: he's done a gajillion issues with Mark Bagley, with Alex Maleev, with Michael Avon Oeming. All good artists, but maybe a bit too familiar: Bendis's usual dialogue+the twentieth straight issue with the same artist=contempt. Maybe? Or maybe not. So, let's look at another great artist, that may have only worked with Bendis a few times: Bill Sienkiewicz, in 2001's Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #7.

"Team-Up" is a misnomer, since Spidey doesn't show up until the second-to-last page or so. The bulk of the issue is Frank Castle in prison; and the first three pages are a couple of criminals talking smack about the Shocker and the crimes they plan on committing when they get out on appeal. Frank kills the hell out of at least one of them, with a spoon.
God, I'm not sure I noticed that deer in the headlights bit before, and it is awesome. Don't know if that's from Bendis or Sienkiewicz, but bravo.

The guards are a little conflicted about Frank: some feel bad for him, and respect him since he was a cop; while others remember he killed two cops. When his lawyer arrives, she's angry to find him in hard restraints, since she knows Frank only kills criminals. And two cops. She tries to get him open up about what happened to him, the murder of his family, and why he killed those cops. Remembering that day in Central Park, and a distinctive belt-buckle of one of the shooters, Frank remains silent. Sadly, his lawyer leaves, perhaps not realizing she left a pen and paperclip on the table, that aren't there when the guards come to put Frank back in the hole.

Later, as tourists take digital pictures of Spider-Man's butt, on the jumbotron the news announces the Punisher's escape...whether or not Frank named himself that, or was even "the Punisher" at that point, well, that doesn't matter.

While a lot of this issue has the trademark Bendis dialogue, there are also seven pages with none at all (except for "Gkk...gkk...gkk..." on one) and two more with minimal dialogue. The criminals' conversation, which brings up Daredevil since he'll show up in the next chapter, is particularly ugly, as one mentions being stopped from raping a girl by DD, but how he plans on going right back there when he gets out. (In case you thought Frank just killed him to shut him up.) Yet, it's so much like Bendis's usual verbal tics...! But man alive, Bill Sienkiewicz knocks it out, as usual. This storyline would run for two more issues, and bring in Daredevil, and while I remember a great killing from Frank, I couldn't tell you what if anything Spidey got to do here...

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Awesome art by an awesome artist. Sienkiewicz never fails to satisfy.

I too share a lot of your complaints about Bendis' work. I enjoyed his run on Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-man, and even heard his Powers' work is really good. But for some reason when it comes to Avengers, he just doesn't mesh well. His corny dialogue is just that; as he tries hard to be cool. Avengers is an action book, not a talking heads strip. It's like he has a dual identity thing going on like the Hulk or something. Weird.