Pick of the Week

June 6, 2012 – Fury MAX #3

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 10.2%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Garth Ennis
Art by Goran Parlov
Cover by Dave Johnson

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

“Last night, when it got bad… I mean when it really close-in and crazy… I’m pretty sure I shot one of our guys.”

“I’m pretty sure I did too. Sometimes it just gets like that.”

That exchange took place on page five, and that was where I knew it was my favorite comic book of the week. That’s not a huge surprise mind you, because the first two issues were also my favorite comics in their respective weeks as well, and I’d built up an unhealthy level of expectation for the third issue, which can often backfire. (Have you heard about this Prometheus motion picture?) And yet, in completing the first three issue story, the expectations were upheld and exceeded. We’ve all got our soft spots, and in comics, for me, Garth Ennis war stories are a big one. I can’t get enough, and that’s probably because Ennis has never once dropped the ball. Whether it’s working with Marvel(ish) characters, or his own made up characters, the man writes a good war yarn, over and over again.

In this story, we find ourselves in Southeast Asia before the Vietnam War properly kicks off. Over the last couple of issues, we’ve seen the situation at a French forward operating base deteriorate further and further, as at the beginning of this chapter, it looks like the storm has passed, except that it hasn’t. The idea is that these French colonialists and the Americans have no idea what they’re dealing with in terms of the opposition. The rules of real life and the idea of decency is thrown out the window when it comes to war. There are horrors out there, surpassing most of what we see in fiction, specifically because they’re real. This is highlighted a couple of times in the issue.

One of the very interesting aspects of the story is that an ex-Nazi officer is working with the French to train their soldiers. Fury’s young comrade is incensed by this, and in the last issue, the Nazi kicked the bejeezus out of him. A firefight followed and they fought alongside ex-SS. This issue opens with a simple conversation about how that’s okay, and how it works with what we accept. It’s fiction yes, and it’s even a Marvel comic book, but it’s also a fascinating discourse that must have happened somewhere. Not all the men who fought for the Germans were killed. They moved on to continue their lives, many having formerly been Nazis. Of course, that character does get his comeuppance, but it’s a strange mix of both a heroic and well deserved death. It seems so simple, but on reflection, Ennis has given us so much to think about in such a short period of time.

The second half of the issue is another thing entirely. Events transpire in such an unexpected and horrifying way that even Nick Fury himself is completely glazed over, and unable to react. He literally stands completely still as he watches Hell itself break out all around him. What he thought he knew and could handle were blown away by his reality, and he was stunned. Check out the cover to see how Dave Johnson managed to capture his shock. And when Nick Fury is shocked, that means something. It’s a major downer ending, concluding with Fury being released and walking away from the slaughter through a row of severed heads, and holding a broken gun. I had to go back over it a few times to understand exactly what was happening. It wasn’t that it wasn’t well told, but while it probably could have been clearer, it was beautifully subtle, and ultimately better. It was only after going back through that I realized Fury didn’t say a single word after the big attack started. It was masterful.

Goran Parlov succeeded at two specific things that made this issue work. He managed to sell the first half of the issue with wonderful acting and body language. It was chocked right full of talking and explanations, but Parlov captured the inherent defeat of the characters in their expressions and stooped shoulders and well chosen shots.  Then, when things went badly, he captured the insanity and bedlam of war, with men dying savagely and explosions going off all around. It was all amped up in just the right amounts, owed a lot to classic war comics and cartoonists, but Joe Kubert couldn’t have drawn this any better. With Lee Loughridge providing the color palette, complimenting the art perfectly, this was as well produced as a comic book gets.

I already admitted my bias, but it’s safe to say that if this is the kind of thing you like, you’re going to really like this. If you’re reading Fury MAX, you’re likely thrilled with Fury MAX, and while I’m sure this will be a bit of an under-the-radar successful books, it’s great to see that Marvel is still giving Garth Ennis a stage where he can tell these kinds of stories, because he tells them better than anyone else in comics. If it sounds like your thing, do not miss out on this title, because it’s something special.

Josh Flanagan
“Tug McCuskey”


  1. I 100 percent agree with you, Josh. This was my runnerup for POTW (in case anyone was wondering, my POTW was tied between Earth 2 and Dark Avengers)

  2. I’ve read & (obviously) heard good things about this title, but I think I shall trade wait!

    My POTW Invincible Iron Man, totally awesome with Secret close behind.

  3. Absolutely agree. Ennis’s Fury is one of my favorite characters from back during the Punisher Max series. Great review Josh.

  4. Really, this series gets better and better with each issue.

  5. Oh thank god….* phew*

  6. I haven’t read anything yet…but I’m waiting for Fury in trade. It sounds awesome. I’m really curious about our reaction as a group to the watchmen.

  7. Finally a POTW for Fury Max! Ennis is killing it on this book!

  8. Why is this not available digitally? My shop isn’t carrying it.

  9. AGH! Why did I miss out on this series!? Thank god it’s an ongoing….I should have gotten this issue at least when I had the chance.

    My POTW was Swamp Thing #10. FINALLY, an issue that deserves worthy praise for that series.

  10. Does this story not end with this issue? I had thought it would. Trying now to decide whether or not to tradewait this one.

  11. Nice pick, Josh. This book is pretty great. In an age of reboots and “new” being the biggest selling point to readers, I love seeing lesser profile titles getting their due. Craft above hype, thank you. Can always expect you guys to keep that mind.

  12. This got my POTW as well. Loving this book! Swamp Thing was my runner up pick.

  13. I loved Ennis and Parlov on Max Punisher so this is a must read for me.

    And I’m loving it, I get the same thrill I got when Ennis along with Parlov, Fernandez etc did my fave run ever.

  14. I couldn’t find Fury Max on Comixology. :/ I don’t know why. Also hard for me to consider any other digital retailer since I have my current “library” in there. Do you guys get commissions from Graphicly sales (I don’t think there’s a way to tell that I go through iFanboy for recommends)? Maybe a way to persuade me to a shift since I use your site too much and I can’t see anything in the iF-store (glitch?).

    Ohh yeah, for some weird reason I think any pick Josh makes has a lot more allowance for a read-through and sometimes a buy. Good job…?

  15. I keep telling people to read Ennis’ “Battlefields” and “War Story” books, and they just look at me like I’m an idiot. Well, they are wrong, and this book proves it! I’m loving this – it’s filling the hole that the end of Punisher MAX left in my sub list. This has been fantastic. Ennis knows his history, but the dialogue and characters in this are excellent. Haven’t read #3, nor have I even begun to make a pick of the week yet, but I’m sure this will be in the top of my list.

  16. I think I might have to go back and pick up all three issues. If I can find them that is. Sounds good.

  17. Good to see Ennis back on track, and away from that Crossed garbage. His recent work really turned me off of him. Going to go back and grab these.

  18. This has been a really great series so far, it’s nice to see it getting some attention!

  19. Great pick Josh. Issue #3 was best yet. Art was stunning. And French Indochina?! What a testament to Ennis’ skills that he makes that little understood part of history come alive. I speak French, I wonder how the book worked for non-francophones? Seemed like a lot of French.

    What will the next arc bring? Vietnam? The Gulf?

  20. What happened to the “Best of the week in Panels?”

  21. I’m moved to comment on what a great pick. I’d not preordered this series but liked the look of it. I’m always just a little wary that we’ll get the too slapstick version of Ennis. Luckily my store seemed to order big on #1 and I gave it a shot. I love that it feels complex, yet is immediately accessible, and that along with the military realsim he doesn’t forget a sense of old fashioned romance (both in Shirley and in war itself).

    I wonder if Ennis took the title from Anthony Lloyd’s Balkan war memoir “My War Gone By I miss It So”, another excellent piece of writing about the struggle to deal with a kind of addiction to conflict. It’s well worth a look.

    And so…on to Cuba!

    • This year’s winner of the Prix Goncourt, the most prestigious literary prize in France, went to a novel called “The French Art of War”. It involved a young man today trying to understand a veteran of the French Indochina and Algerian wars. The veteran’s story of French Indochina was remarkably similar to Ennis’…the post on a hill surrounded by other hills that is eventually overrun, heads on pikes, etc. I was wondering if Ennis had read it for inspiration?

      I imagine Ennis has a wide and deep reading list, like most people on IFanboy!!

  22. I read this one just this morning and wow, you were right. It’s funny, because I also had a reaction to those two panels of dialog you mention in the first lines of your review. I’m pretty sure I said out loud, “Oh, doggone it, guys…” Ennis captures both sides of this battle very well. No matter how badly I hated the Viet Minh when they ambushed the French, you had to kind of understand where the guy at the end was coming from when he said they weren’t going to let outsiders come in and stomp all over them. This is good comics-making. The art reminded me–in a very good way–of Jordi Bernet in some places.

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