I read both of these last night, and was surprised to find I enjoyed Punishermax more than Unwritten, particularly seeing as Punishermax was quite unpleasant. I mean, Garth Ennis' Punisher Max was often unpleasant, but that was all part of its bleak nature: the abiding theme of Ennis' run was the world is an awful, awful place and the Max version of the Punisher was exactly the kind of 'hero' the world deserves. It's hard to determine Jason Aaron's theme on Punishermax as we've only had two issues, but it seems to be more of a nastied-up version of Ennis and Steve Dillon's earlier, less X-rated Punisher comics. That's partly to do with the presence of Dillon on art duties on Punishermax, but I don't sense the bitter depth of Ennis' best writing in Aaron's. But, a clunky 'origin' scene for the Kingpin aside (I just didn't buy the rats sequence – this kid witnesses his dog being thrown out of a window so immediately starts keeping rats with which to torture his dad; felt a bit false and over-egged to me (although I liked the bit with the cheese – he's gonna use cheese to torture his dad??)), once I got into the swing of the comic, the machinations of the Kingpin, contrasted with the Punisher's investigations, really worked for me. So yeah: unpleasant, but oddly enjoyable.
As for Unwritten, it's still not clicking for me. It's well written, Peter Gross' art is as great as ever, but I think what I'm missing is any empathy with the lead character, Tom Taylor. The brilliant thing about Lucifer, Mike Carey and Peter Gross' previous series, was the title character was such an epic bastard that even when he wasn't in the comic his presence weighed on and distorted the story, shaping it around him. In Unwritten, I don't mind Tom Taylor, but he does come across as a bit of a dick, and although his presence is felt in stories in which he doesn't appear (as in this one, for the most part), other characters actually shine brighter, are more vivid than he's been so far. Which is a problem. I don't know if it's the comic's problem, or my problem (could be part of my general disillusionment with comics), but it is a problem. I'll give it a few more issues I think, but then I may have to call it a day. Shame.
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