This week Frank Castle does his own kind of trick or treating in Punisher Annual, and Sinestro’s Law comes to an end in Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps!
The Punisher Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)
It’s been quite awhile since we’ve had a seasonal issue of a comic hit at the right time. Thankfully this week sees the release of Punisher Annual #1, which takes place coincidentally on Halloween. While it doesn’t fit in with the current running Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon (RIP) series, the Gerry Conway and Felix Ruiz special issue is still a fun little adventure that fits in with the themes of this time of year.
Or at least, it should’ve been.
Simply put, Punisher Annual doesn’t live up to the premise it’s promising. Gerry Conway’s script is fine, but it reads like every other Punisher story you’ve read before. Conway puts the focus on a young police officer trailing the Punisher as he hunts down a drug runner, which is a story that I feel has been told a thousand times before in the long history of Punisher comics. Conway does make some use of the Halloween theme, especially with a fun moment between Frank Castle and a guy wearing a Punisher t-shirt, but outside of that one moment and the trick or treaters running around, the Halloween theme that the awesome cover promises feels tacked on.
Another strike against Punisher Annual is the art. I’ve never seen Felix Ruiz’ work before, but I have to say, this is not a great first impression. There’s an overly sketchy nature to Ruiz’ style, and in the end, it makes his art look unfinished. There’s barely any definition to The Punisher’s face, as Ruiz instead has it obscured by shadows and sketch lines. If this was to try and make The Punisher seem larger than life and like a monster, it doesn’t work as well as Ruiz intended it to.
Punisher Annual is sadly not the comic to get your superhero Halloween fix. In fact, you’d probably be better off reading Rick Remender’s Frankencastle series instead (Google it). The cover and solicitations for this book promised something completely different from what we were given, and while that sometimes leads to some great surprises, that’s unfortunately not the case this time around.
Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #7 (DC Comics)
I’ll be straight up: I had no interest in Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps. I wasn’t a fan of Robert Venditti’s work on the character prior to DC Rebirth, and there wasn’t anything that I found interesting from the initial announcement of the new series. But after hearing from some trusted people, I took a chance and caught up on the Hal Jordan series, and I have to say, this is has been a pretty damn stellar ride. The battle between Hal Jordan and Sinestro’s growing army has been a lot of fun, and all signs were pointing towards a phenomenal ending for this opening story arc.
Hal Jordan has finally come face to face with Sinestro, who’s Fear Engine, a device that will grant Sinestro and his forces near-limitless power, is nearly fully functional. Hal Jordan is the only person standing in his way, but not even Sinestro is ready for the power that Hal Jordan now has.
Simply put, Robert Venditti’s characterization of Sinestro is spectacular. He gives the villain a great sense of pride and superiority that’s very much in line with Doctor Doom or Magneto. Sinestro is doing this because he believes he can change the universe, despite what others tell him. Hal Jordan is also given some great moments here, and Robert Venditti’s script plays both of these characters off of one another perfectly, but it’s really Guy Gardner who steals the show with his plan to disrupt the Fear Engine.
Hal Jordan has featured some pretty phenomenal talent on art, and Rafael Sandoval does a great job of carrying on that legacy. Sandoval is able to give this battle between these two major enemies the sense of scale it deserves, and he leaves nothing back. There are incredible splash pages of Hal and Sinestro’s battle, and the finale of their fight is a truly surprising moment thanks to the way Sandoval depicts it.
While Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps will probably never usurp the Geoff Johns run as the greatest Green Lantern series, it’s a marked improvement over Hal’s adventures before DC Rebirth. If you’re looking for awesome cosmic action, then this is the book for you. Robert Venditti and his rotating team of artists have been putting out consistent, awesome space adventures with Hal Jordan, and it’s only going to get crazier from here on out. Get on board now before it’s too late.