This week Batman finally faces off with Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Punisher is taken captive in South America!
Batman & Ra’s Al Ghul #32 (DC Comics)
Batman’s quest for the body of Damian Wayne finally comes to a close in Batman & Ra’s Al Ghul #32, as the Dark Knight comes face to face with the Demon’s Head, and he’s not too happy with Ra’s plans to resurrect his daughter and grandson. Writer Peter J. Thomasi and artist Patrick Gleason are in top form with this issue, and bring us one of the most brutal Batman vs. Ra’s fights in recent memory.
Following on the events of last issue, Batman and Frankenstein (yes, that Frankenstein) have made it to Ra’s Al Ghul’s secret Lazarus Pit in the city of Nanda Parabat. Angered by the death of his daughter Talia and grandson Damian, Ra’s has a plan to use to pit to resurrect them and help him remake the world in his image. Naturally Batman isn’t too pleased about this since Ra’s took it upon himself to dig up the graves of Talia and Damian that were on his property, and really brings the pain to Ra’s. The two trade blows in an extremely vicious series of panels that might be one of the most brutal fights that the Batman has ever been in. Of course, they’re stopped by a surprise visitor, which promises us that there’s more to come in the upcoming Robin Rises: Omega one shot.
Peter J. Tomasi has been knocking it out of the park with this series, and issue 32 might be the best yet. Like Batman scribe Scott Snyder, Tomasi has a great sense of what makes Bruce tick, and it’s great to see how Tomasi makes Batman react to this very personal attack on him. This goes beyond something like the Riddler robbing a bank or Mr. Freeze taking hostages, this has to deal with Bruce Wayne’s family, and Tomasi makes us believe Batman when he does the unthinkable and threatens Ra’s Al Ghul’s life.
At the same time, Tomasi also makes us care for Ra’s too. Ra’s love for his daughter Talia is well known to comic fans, but we’ve never really known how much he’s cared for Damian until now. It’s easy to say that Ra’s is the clear villain here because of his actions, but Tomasi’s script makes it pretty easy to almost side with him too.
Like Tomasi, artist Patrick Gleason has been awesome on this series, and he continues to excel with this issue. Gleason stands as one of the best Batman artists out there today (second only to Capullo in my book), and this issue is a true showcase of his talents. From the opening pages of the book where Batman is incased in shadows to the balls to the wall fight between Batman, Ra’s, Frankenstein, a horde of Yetis, AND Ninja Man-Bats, there’s not a wasted panel. Gleason is on fire on this book.
The Batman & title doesn’t seem to make a lot of waves on the internet, but it should. It’s one of DC’s best books and stands completely on it’s own as a Batman title. It also allows us to see Batman interact with the DC universe in ways that his regular title can’t. While it can get a little confusing trying to follow the constant name changes, Batman & is absolutely worth your time, and with the upcoming “Robin Rises” storyline coming up, now is the perfect time to jump on board.
The Punisher #7 (Marvel Comics)
Is anyone else reading the new Punisher series? Cause if not, you’re missing out on some seriously awesome stuff. Punisher #7 finds Frank on the lam in Mexico after his disastrous run in with the new Howling Commandos. While there, a local doctor sells him out to the drug lord El Diabolito, and Frank is sent to his compound in Costa Rica. Keeping Frank in holding until Crossbones can pick him up and take him back to his employers, the drug lord takes this opportunity to try and torture the Punisher to boost his street cred with other dealers. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned for the drug lord, who makes the mistake of placing Frank in a cell with a captured Special Forces soldier who’s waiting for his rescue team. The two bust out and escape, but are now stuck in the jungles of South America, surrounded by enemies, and outgunned. Can Frank make it out?
He probably will, but as long as Nathan Edmondson is involved in the story, it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch Frank survive. Kevin Maurer joins Edmondson on the writing for this issue, and I have to say, they do a killer job. This is the start of a pretty cool Punisher arc that feels very different from the one that just wrapped up. Maurer and Edmondson keep Frank’s monologues to a minimum, focusing instead on his interactions with his captors. This choice adds to the personality of Frank Castle, and continues to make this Punisher title stand out from the ones that came before it.
Unfortunately Mitch Gerards isn’t on the art duties for this issue. Fortunately artist Carmen Carnero’s art fits right in with what we expect the current Punisher series to look like. The art has a lot of similarities to Gerards’ previous work, but I really like how Carnero depicts the jungles around Frank and his new ally, and the action scenes are really well done. Carnero has a great sense of pacing and action in his art, and I hope we’ll be seeing more of his work in future issues.
Punisher is a really awesome title that I worry is getting lost in the “All-New Marvel NOW!” hype train. Nathan Edmondson does an incredible job on the title, and there hasn’t been a bad issue released yet. If you’ve been wary of trying out Frank Castle’s latest series, don’t be. It’s a great crime series that has some pretty funny moments as well. Check it out!