Hello! Apologies for the lack of activity. After saying I probably wouldn't be playing it much, I've been sacrificing every spare moment of time I have at the altar of Batman: Arkham Asylum on the Xbox. What can I say? I'm not much of a gamer, but the combination of a well crafted superhero story with involving mechanics has truly hooked me - I'm even watching the cut scenes for heaven's sake!
I realise that it's been out for yonks, and that anyone who is interested in this sort of thing will have already bought it, so there's not much point in me giving Arkham a proper review; suffice to say it's primarily a stealth game, but there are elements of adventure, beat-'em-up and platform thrown in. Boss battles are great fun and, importantly for fans of Batman, the villains are all true to the comics. The story is written by Paul Dini, and it's actually REALLY good. It'd make a decent comic or movie, and it definitely makes an excellent game.
So there you go, that's what I've been doing. In the moments before I close my eyes and see neon trailed batarangs streaking across my eyelids though, I've also been reading a few comics. The best? Easy peasy! Punisher #14. I can't believe that The Punisher is my favourite comic at the moment. Honestly, I have no attachment to the character, never have done. But this? This is the perfect Marvel comic. Predictably, I like it for precisely the same reasons that hardcore Punisher fans seem to hate it, namely that it's absolutely ridiculous. I could never get on with the grim and gritty hyper violence of Punisher, but now that he's turned into Frankenstein's monster and teamed up with The Legion of Monsters to fight a Basil Cronus type baddie and an army of monster-hunting samurai, I'm in my element!
Not that this book is just about silliness. The latest issue is fun times infinity to the power of sensational, but it's also a damn fine examination of what drives a man to lose his mind and become a psychopath hell-bent on revenge. We're not talking Frank Castle here either, no. Punisher #14 is an origin story for the villain of the current arc, Robert Hellsgaard. What's beautiful about it, is the way in which his story mirrors that of Frank's. He sees his family killed by monsters, (just as Frank sees his killed by the mob), and devotes the rest of his life to killing them. In other words, he IS Frank - or at least he's motivated by exactly the same emotions as Frank. Great stuff. Made all the better by guest artist Dan Brereton who riffs on the old Warren horror stories and monster mags of the 70s to provide a set of amazing visuals. 100% the best Marvel comic I've read in years. A++.