Friday, June 16, 2006

Tag the Tyger

Tag #i

If (God forbid) Boom! Studios went out of business tomorrow they'd probably be best remembered for their off-beat zombie tales. In their short history they've probably published more on that subject than any other publisher in the last ten years, and very few of those stories have been disappointing (well, the ones I've read...), and Tag is no exception.

Written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Kody Chamberlain (unheard of by me until now), it's the story of a guy named Mitch, who's sure his girl wants to break up with him, and in the middle of a date no less. As they stand on a street corner arguing a man "tags" Mitch. When he wakes up from the bizaare incident he discovers he's got no pulse, isn't breathing, and his flesh is decomposing. With no place to go he crashes at his girlfriend's, hoping to discover exactly what is happening to him, through the internet (and its two most popular "tools" at the moment, Google and blogging).

Giffen delivers a solid story, something you can pretty much bank on, but Chamberlain's art took a bit of getting used to. It's not bad, just not all that impressive, like looking at a movie story board, just in color and more refined. Hopefully that's something that will improve as the story continues, but it's passable as it is. Giffen's unique story keeps your eyes on the page, the way he's able to weave a scientific mystery with the tragic/hilarious situation these two people find themselves in. The fact that Mitch and Izumi refuse to believe what's happening, even as they slowly come to accept it draws you in with them. It's a unique idea in a genre that's been done to death, which seems to be Boom!'s calling card. Definitely looking forward to this series.

The Punisher: The Tyger

Ennis and the Punisher, two great tastes that taste great together, usually... Yeah, there have been some misses, but when it's right it's never been better. Unfortunately The Tyger walks the line between the two. Ennis already gave us the "origin" of The Punisher in Born, a look at Vietnam and what it did to the mind of Frank Castle, but here we learn it started even sooner than that.

It's probably the most personal story Ennis has ever told with the character, and telling it in first person adds a ton of humanity to a character he's written pretty coldly over the last several years. That humanity is also what drags the story down unfortunately. I'm not sure why but Frank doesn't really work in that way, you find yourself drawing away from him as he comes closer to being human. For some reason it's that cold, calculating killing machine that you can identify with. Turn him into a child and you lose that relatability. Very odd. John Severin's art is okay, seems to be an aping of Frank Quitley's style a bit too much for my taste, but he tells the story well enough.

A look into the childhood of Frank Castle isn't the worst idea, and it's a well told, decently illustrated story, it's just not a part of his past that we really needed to see. Really, how much crap can you pile on this guy? It's amazing he wasn't killing people at ten years old.


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