That title’s a bit of a mouthful, eh?
IDW is adapting Don Pendleton’s series, The Executioner, into comic books, which should seem quite familiar to most comic book readers as the character of the Punisher is based heavily on Pendleton’s Mack Bolan (the Executioner) (and by “is based heavily on” I mean “is essentially the same character”). The first issue, which is due out in April, is written by Doug Wojtowicz (who has ghost-written a number of The Executioner novels) and SL Gallant (who has zombie-drawn a number of Marvel Adventures titles).
The result is a good introduction to the character, although perhaps a bit on the rote side.
Wojtowicz came up with a fairly clever storytelling device for the issue – a group of the top bad guys from all the various mobs gather together to discuss their problem with Bolan. Meanwhile, he intermixes their discussion of Bolan (which provides the exposition of his back story) with Bolan actually doing one of his missions. It is a great way to introduce the character (who has a decent amount of back story) to the presumably new audience that will be reading the comic book story.
While it is a fairly clever idea, it leads to a fairly predictable, routine story. They’re going to talk about his past and it is going to intercut with Bolan taking down the bad guys. Rinse and repeat.
This is not to say that Wojtowicz is telling a poor story. He is not. It is a decent enough of story. A solid introduction, but there really is no flair here – no hook. It is basically establishment work.
Artist S.L. Gallant’s style works as an interesting partner to Wojtowicz’s story, in that it is the perfect fit for the “just introduce the character and the concept” story we have here, as Gallant is a clear storyteller. That said, he is also the perfect fit because his art has a similar lack of flair.
Check out the following pages…
Solid, professional work by Gallant, to be sure. His work does not get in the way of the writer’s work, but if the writer is, like here, telling a fairly standard story – he is also not going to raise the level of the story, either.
As a checklist look at the issue…
A good recap of who Mack Bolan is and what he does? Check.
Nice artwork? Check.
A solid story? Check.
An above average story? Not really.
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled as readers by the Executioner knockoff, the Punisher. Perhaps that is unfair to the original. In either case, the result is that these type of stories have been told hundreds of times already, so you really need to add some extra pizazz to make them standout, and while this is only the intro, and you can forgive Wojtowicz for spending more time on introduction than on making the story stand out, it’s still a let down. It doesn’t mean the later issues of this series will be, but for now…
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