Each week, Marvel gives away a free digital copy with your purchase, if you redeem the digital comics. (It's the same across the board, so if you buy everything, you only get one additional comic. Still, bonus in addition to the free digital copies, so I can't really find a reason to complain!)
I'd read the Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen crossover, and still found myself confused when this exactly happened: so much of the time switches from before to after made me feel like it was placed before, then I realized they were talking about it, so it had to happen after. I'm not sure why this didn't work for me, but I suspect that it's because I felt like the time switches didn't really serve a purpose: there were some funny lines, but I knew Miles was close enough to Ganke to tell him about this, and the other kid in there I guess? They didn't add anything the comic though, so what was the big deal?
That being said, I think I'm over Bendis. I still find him hilarious and he tells a good story, a story that makes me feel, but they all feel the same. I'm bored. He's writing more and more Marvel, and that's making it feel like the same. Action, some quips, bada bing, bada boom. Others - Soule comes to mind, and quite frankly less so Ahmed if only because he's only writing one Marvel comic and only ever has - seem to be doing something different. (Black Bolt is amazing, but it's hard to tell how Ahmed would write other characters and if his tack would be different without him having written them. Soule? I've read a lot of his work and it seems to feel different depending on which character he's writing.)
And I obviously still enjoy Bendis. I got this for free, read it, and enjoyed it, but I don't subscribe to Bendis' series, and I've stopped looking forward to him writing new series. Anyway, this is basically a recap of Miles and Gwen finding Miles' father, but not really the whole story. Just up to a certain point. It was fun, but I knocked off one star for the ennui I've got going with Bendis.
And I'm loving it. It seems like the first story arc is complete, which makes sense: twelve issues would make two graphic novels. Everything has been wrapped up nicely, although almost everything ended up differently than I expected, starting early on. This started out brutal, and while it might not necessarily outdo itself each issue in physical violence, it just absolutely savages the characters mentally when it's not doing it physically. Then again, this is Punisher, and it's not a series I read for sunshine or puppies. This is supposed to be a bloody path to punishing criminals when the police, or other law enforcement, can't. (Or won't in some cases.) When the legal system works too slowly or is inadequate to the situation, Frank Castle steps in with his guns, knives, or if necessary fists. He doesn't flinch, he doesn't hesitate, and he doesn't let anything like getting stabbed or shot get in his way.
I just can't seem to say much about this. The art is perfect: clean style, efficient, and a little grittier than some comic book art, but it fits the series.
When Batman and Commissioner Gordon find a body on the 84th floor - with no way in except for the window - they think that will be the most odd thing about the murder. Y'know, until Swamp Thing shows up suddenly behind them, causes Gordon to make a WTF face.
Even odder, at least to me, was not only Swamp Thing's revelation about his connection to the dead man, but his whole philosophy. Does all of Swamp Thing get that weird? Oh, man, I might just have to read the older series now, because I was laughing out loud at some parts. (Gordon's reaction to seeing Swamp Thing, and Alfred's reaction to having to clean up after Swamp Thing come to mind.)
Most of what I've read of Swamp Thing has been, embarrassingly, in the new Hellblazer series, and only a couple issues of that. I say embarrassingly because this is clearly a hole in my comic book reading, a hole that's due to me being a Marvel fanatic. (Read as I only read Marvel when I started getting into comics. While I've expanded since then, my teenage-fueled fanaticism along with a slight hiatus, mostly during college, means that I'm still sadly behind.) I loved King's take on Swamp Thing. It felt different than Hellblazer's take, although not conflicting with that take. Different circumstances, different writers, and different aspects of the same character. Hellblazer didn't feel quite as philosophical and quite frankly bizarre to me, although there was an aspect of oddness that was just taken for granted: it was weird, the characters had lived with that fact for a while, and just accepted it. But then again, Constantine would. Batman, who deals with science and detective work, questions this a little more, pokes at it, and I think this is where the completely and utter weirdness comes from. When put up against a character who thinks purely logically, instead of metaphysically, it seems even more odd due to the contrast. While people in Hellblazer questioned Swamp Thing on his history with Abby, and why he couldn't trust her, they simply accepted rather than trying to force his, or her, story into a little box. (Batman doesn't really poke as much as he could, but even his inability to completely understand or accept some of the things Swamp Thing says creates a contrast.) Or maybe I'm reading this wrong, because, y'know, I don't really read much Swamp Thing - or I haven't in the past. I plan on doing so in the future.
Something about the hint of humor, and the whole bizarreness of Swamp Thing wandering around Gotham just struck me. Not as anything in particular, it just made this an incredible read for me. The balance of those two elements, the ending in which Batman futilely tries to hold Swamp Thing accountable, the need he has to believe in what Swamp Thing says without truly having the faith that others in this universe do? It all made an impression. This has a lot more than I expected, not because I haven't enjoyed this run of Batman. And certainly not because I didn't know King could handle this. (I do. I reread the run of Vision all the time, and I keep finding new things. Vision is what sold me on King, and made me want to read Batman: I was in it for the writer.) It's more that while Batman has been saying a lot of things, it hasn't quite hit the balance this issue has. While I've loved King's Batman so far, I'm finding this issue just is a high point for me as a reader.)
A slight aside then back to this issue: I don't always mention the art, by the way, and I'm trying to rectify that. While I think it's important that the art and writing work together, I follow writers more than artists. (That is, I will start buying a series for a writer, and it's rarer for me to do that for an artist.) I think this tendency has caused me to not mention the art, or not saying much about it, but I've recently read a tweet by a comic book writer asking us reviewers not to completely bypass the artist. Fair enough! If he was doing it on his own behalf, I'd side eye it. But I actually think he has a good point: I, in particular, don't really give enough shout out to the artists. (And it's not King, and I'm not saying who it is just in case he gets harassed for this.) It wasn't punitive, it wasn't angry, it was just asking us to remember the artists since I'm apparently not the only reviewer who does this. And I'm only taking the advice because I feel like I'm shorting the artists, and I don't want to do this.
I've also, quite frankly, been afraid that by saying that some art is more typical of the comic book style, I'll offend someone. While there is a general style - penciled, inked, then colored - there are some artists who paint their work or who used multi-media, and there is some purely digital art out there. None of which is a better style than any other, it's merely different. The real test is the artist's ability. And Gerard does an excellent job, the more so the more I think about it. Much of the humor is not merely in the writing, but in the way that Gerard presents the faces. This issue would be sorely lacking without those small touches. Not only that, the intro scene is grittier than the rest of the issue, which matches the scene perfectly. (Which is helped by the coloring; as the issue gets relatively lighter, so do the actual colors.)
Just lovely all together.