THE PUNISHER: CIRCLE OF BLOOD (Marvel, 2008; Hardcover)
Collects The Punisher Nos. 1-5 (cover dates January- May, 1986)
There was a time when I loved the Punisher, and this was it. My comic book collecting friend from way back when these issues were published bought these, and we'd sit there and “share” our comic books. This series was worlds more violent than anything going on in Marvel Comics at the time, and it was gold to this (at that time) 12 year old boy. This was pre-Robocop and Die Hard, mind you. I loved the mindless violence of the '80s.
Mike Zeck's artwork is great, and you just don't see action scenes with this type of “movement” from one panel to the next anymore. Zeck is a master storyteller, and I wonder where he is today.
This mini-series is a work of art and worthy of a Masterworks line or, better yet, an Omnibus.
The OCD Zone- I was suffering from a round of upgrade-itis, a condition that plagues us collected edition obsessives who want the best reproduction, best linework, best color restoration, best binding, etc., available. I saw this hardcover, sealed and brand new, in a $10 box at the Detroit FanFare. How could I resist this, a beloved mini-series from my golden age of the mid-'80s, in hardcover? I couldn't, and I didn't. I opened it up to read, and to my horror...glued binding. Not just glued binding, but the evil, unholy, blacker-than-black glued mousetrap binding that Marvel once used. Oh, the humanity! I have become so spoiled by and accustomed to the wonderful sewn binding that Marvel uses in this Premiere Classic line of hardcovers that I simply forgot that things weren't always so. Now this story is a two-fisted read on both levels: First, the action and violence make this a pulse-pounding read. Second, the binding is so tight that if you take even one hand off of it at any point in the book...snap! Like a mousetrap!
Adding further insult to this injury is the occasionally muddy linework. This was recolored using computers. Allow me to clarify...all of these books are re-colored by computer, but there are generally two methods: one is to let the computer “fill the shape”, which is way faster but can saw off lines. The second is “by hand”, where the colorist has to go in and painstakingly fill in the spaces. I prefer the latter method because the integrity of the linework is maintained better. It is, of course, more expensive to use this method, which is why it is typically reserved for the more high end collections like Masterworks, but that is where my OCD lays.
My advice is to get the original 1988 trade paperback printing or the floppies. I wish that I didn't dump mine off on eBay for this “upgrade”. I am on the extreme end of anal-retentiveness when it comes to this kind of stuff, so your mileage may vary. Maybe you like occasionally bad reproduction and glued binding...it takes all kinds I guess.