Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 06.26.2013 – Fury MAX #13

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

388
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.9
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 31.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Garth Ennis
Art by Goran Parlov
Colors by Lee Loughridge
Cover by Dave Johnson

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

This is probably going to sound cynical, but that’s where comics (the business) can put you sometimes, and honestly, the Fury MAX series itself is pretty cynical to begin with, so perhaps this is fitting. You will not see many offerings from Marvel or DC like Fury MAX again. We came through a golden era of “mature” comics, but the fact is, the market isn’t there like it used to be. Vertigo Comics is… whatever it is now, and the MAX line still exists, but I get the feeling that series like this will get more and more rare. It’s no one’s fault, and I hope I’m wrong, but that’s where I feel like we are. And isn’t that a complete bummer? A lot like this issue, really. But not like that.

So it is with all the more exaltation that I praise the good works of Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge, and even editor Nick Lowe for somehow convincing the publisher to bring this sequential piece of perfect to our greedy eyeballs. This thirteenth and final issue of Fury MAX was in keeping with all that came before it. It’s about war. But it’s not about the swelling hearts and victory of war, but it asks the same question Edwin Starr asked in 1969: What is it good for? Traveling with this version of Nick Fury through the decades, we’re also forced to conclude that “absolutely nothing” is, in fact, the correct answer. This isn’t Saving Private Ryan. This is something else. This is a look at America, and the soldier as a symbol, and what we’ve accomplished, and it’s entirely fiction, except that it isn’t. What’s interesting is that the story is written by Ennis, a man who is clearly enraptured with war, having written more war comics than anyone else I can think of since the Silver Age. After all that writing, reading, and research, the story he came up with is one that points out its pointlessness in our world. At least that’s one opinion. See, the series was more than just a bunch of cool stuff with good guys and bad guys, and shooting at each other, and things that are bad ass. I can’t figure out how it exists other than by the force of will of the people involved and a hell of a lot of talent.

This issue made me tear up. I’m not even having a particularly emotional day. It’s just that Garth Ennis is the single best creator of relationships in comics, and he did it again. While we didn’t get to love these characters as much as we did with others he’s written (see Kit, Cassidy, Tulip, etc.), he made us care. When Shirley makes the decision she makes, it’s a surprise, but it makes sense in the context it does. Every character involved in that ugly tangle of relationships made horrible mistakes and used the most selfish judgement. The issue goes from a macro statement on the nature of war and politics, and brings it straight down into the small effects on these singular lives. You can’t turn back time for these characters, but damn it if you don’t want to; to rewind their fictional lives, and see it play out differently, for all of them. Even poor Hatherly had it coming for him, and he probably got the best deal out of all of them. The writing and art put you into their heads and into their lives, and it goes to show that you don’t have to have likable characters, but if you have interesting characters, you’ve got something.

In the afterward, Nick Lowe says “there isn’t a better storyteller in comics today” than Goran Parlov, and he’s not wrong. Issue after issue, Parlov did exactly what was necessary to convey exactly the right amount of whatever the scene needed, be it action, emotion, or silence. It’s not the kind of art where you’re impressed at that amazing spread of a helicarrier. It’s the kind of art where you marvel at the economy of storytelling. Not since Steve Dillon has Garth Ennis matched up with someone so perfectly suited for his stories. Then Loughridge comes in with a relatively flat, not overly rendered color palette to compliment the art perfectly. With this final issue, Parlov got to put on a clinic, where a majority of the panels are just faces and body language. This is not what people, what I, typically look for in a comic book with Nick Fury as the titular character, but they made it work.

In fact, they made it work so well, that this is one of the finest series I’ve read in my time professionally reading comics. This series will go down in the books as one of the greats. If the multiple Picks of the Week didn’t convince you, or our endless praise, I don’t know if there’s any point in listening to anything we say, because almost anything else is going to be lacking. It was a fantastic run. They got to tell their story, and they didn’t waste a single second of my time with anything but the best in comic book storytelling.

Josh Flanagan
There, there, darling. Roads not taken. Don’t cry.
josh@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. Glad I took the recommendations and read this title. Its been a long slow heartbreak all the way, but one I’ve enjoyed every month.

  2. Nice pick, but I thought you were going with Lazarus for sure

  3. man, leave it Josh to bum me out even though one of my fav books got POTW :/

    I really hope that the cover of this one is the cover of the hardcover, it’s kinda perfect for the whole series. Though I doubt it will be.

  4. Great pick. I’m glad Ennis is getting some props, he can really do fantastic work. The pairing with Parlov really works. I hope this is remembered as one of the greats in years to come.

    And if you haven’t read Ennis’ Battlefields books, you’re doing yourself a great disservice…

  5. I’ve loved this series from beginning to end. Ennis proves once more why he is one of the all-time greats. Parlov was a new experience for me, and henceforth I will follow him anywhere.

    In a week of great books, this was at the top of my stack. After I finished, I thought “Well that’s my POTW.”

    Then I thought, “Who has POTW on iFanboy this wee- … Josh. Looks like it’ll be iFanboy’s POTW too.”

    I’m so glad to see that I wasn’t wrong.

  6. This book was great and has been since issue one. I’d say it bummed me out too much for it to be my potw though, such a great week in comics.

  7. There’s one thing that annoys me about this series and I hope that it will be discussed in the POW podcast. That is, with Punisher MAX I really felt that Ennis had run out of stories to tell and he had said all he had to about the Punisher, with this I still feel there are more stories to be told. I feel Jim Steranko was the only one who scratched the surface of Nick Fury and I was hoping that this would be THE definitive, must-have Fury book in the same way the Punisher MAX series was. Apart from that, I’m still pretty happy with the way it turned out, wish we could have had an arc on how he lost his eye but there you go. Still my POW as well despite a truly incredible week of awesome books.

    • I think this is a different type of comic all together then what you were looking for. I don’t know if I would call it the definitive Nick Fury story. Fury is a more an avatar for Garth Ennis view on post WW2 america and the mistakes that were made by the Military Industrial Complex. Steranko was writing Nick Fury stories. This is an American History story.

    • In terms of the market, a book called Fury isn’t as likely as a book called Punisher to get that long of a runway.

    • This book could’ve just been volume 3 of his Vertigo War Stories. With the span of wars and conflicts mentioned in this book, I doubt there could ever be a definitive Fury story in this vein.

      I believe this is Ennis’ third Fury story. One of them dealt with his eye (Marvel Knights?), and the MAX story was just wacky and silly (like Marvel Knights Punisher).

      If you like this Ennis,
      I strongly recommend reading the last two volumes of Ennis’ Punisher MAX, it has similiar tones and familiar characters from this series.

  8. I’ve been reading this in trade. Loved the first volume, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second one.

  9. Okay, I have no exposure to Ennis’s work, but I’ve been meaning to try his stuff out, and after all the praise you guys have heaped on this series, the collection of this story sounds like a good place to start! I probably should’ve listened sooner but better late than never, I suppose.

    • When it comes to comics, it’s never too late. If you even gradually start to sample Ennis’ body of work, you will not be disappointed. It’s not all solid gold, but you’d be hard pressed to find something that you’d regret trying. He’s a force of nature.

    • I’ve been meaning to read Preacher for years now, and I really think his war comics are something I need to read based on everything the iFanboys have said. I’ve heard mixed things on the Boys and the Punisher Max stuff though…I’ll take recommendations if anybody has them!

      If his character work is even half as good as what Josh says in this review and in past shows, I bet I’ll love it.

    • It almost goes without saying that you should read Preacher. But I’m of the mind that everyone in the world should read Preacher, and obviously that’s kind of insane. Honestly though, you don’t need to start there. It’s a bit of an undertaking (nine paperbacks), but in my experience most people are either hooked instantly or they’re not.

      Battlefields is wonderful. I’m waiting on Red Team but I’ve heard good things. I for one loved his Punisher. His Hellblazer and Authority are among my favorite runs of each title.

      Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Boys, but I know a lot of Ennis fans who are.

      He also previously wrote a Fury mini called Peacemaker with Darick Robertson. It was ok, but pretty low on the list.

      There’s no shortage of great Ennis material, but off the top of my head that about covers it.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!

    • I’d say Ennis is one of my four favorite comic book writers. Some of his stuff has suffered due to poor art pairings (Back to Brooklyn). Not a very big fan of the Boys either. Like WheelHands wrote above Punisher and Preacher are must reads from him. I would also recommend his Ghost Rider mini series The Road to Damnation and his run on Hellblazer. I haven’t read all of Hitman but that’s like a better version of The Boys with actual DC Superhero’s. His Punisher stuff is all over the place in regards to titles but some of my favorites are the Ma Gunnuchi story arc, the first trade of Punisher Max where he takes down a human Trafficking ring, Born and Barracuda.

    • Oh yeah, how could I forget Hitman? What a great book that was. I think they finally released all the trades for it. Definitely a must-read.

      I think his is also the definitive run on Punisher. Start at the beginning, with “Welcome Back, Frank.” You’ll be glad you did.

    • Hellblazer, start with Hellblazer.

  10. I feel like I have a relationship with this book. As dumb as that sounds, there it is. I haven’t read or experienced a piece of fiction in any medium that was as flawlessly and expertly executed as this story. The storytelling was so tight without a single wasted panel or unnecessary word. Pavlov and Ennis deserve a dump truck full of Eisners for this. I envy anybody who is about to read this for the first time. Sad to see it go.

  11. Stunned. I thought for sure this was going to Lazarus.

    “You will not see many offerings from Marvel or DC like Fury MAX again. We came through a golden era of “mature” comics, but the fact is, the market isn’t there like it used to be.”

    At first I wanted to disagree, but you’re probably right. VERY right. Even the current crop of Image titles, while fantastic, aren’t really “mature” in the same way that everything from Preacher to Sleeper to Punisher MAX has been.

    I remember a few years ago when Deadpool MAX got a Vol. 2 #1 and I thought, “Aces! Another 12 issues!” It lasted 6. The leash gets shorter and shorter.

    I wasn’t reading comics in the early 2000s. I wish I didn’t skip those glory years.

  12. I really need to read all of this once the next volume comes out. That cover looks like something from Jeff Lemire even though I know it’s Johnson. Weird.

    My POTW was The Wake #2 because Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth doesn’t make things fair. Fantastic issue.

  13. Wow, what was that? Four times out of 13 issues? Impressive. What a fantastic series this has been. Glad I overlooked my distaste and disdain for some of the other things Ennis has done in recent years and picked this up.

  14. I don’t really like Ennis’ work in general. I tried Preacher and The Boys, thinking they’re the kind of thing I would tend to like, but they left me cold. I think it could be that I just don’t share his sense of humour, it’s a bit puerile for me and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. However, I’m currently working my way through the first trade of this and I love it. It’s all the qualities of his that I like without the bits I don’t. Finally an Ennis book I can get behind.

  15. I really liked Fury MAX. It’s been an excellent ride.

  16. The last page of this comic had me floored.

    • What was your interpretation of that last page?

      I thought it could be read a few different ways.

    • I thought that it meant how prior to everything that happens in Fury Max the flag represented a principle for members of the Military and everything that America stood for. The sacrifices they made to make our nation and the world a better place. That scene takes place before anything really happens in the series. The remaining series is how military industrial complex comprises those principles again and again. Now is this Ennis saying that this is what it stands for and we screwed it up so bad and are fucked beyond repair or it saying we can live up to that if we sacrifice our own self interest for those principles I’m not sure? If it is in fact an either or binary (which it isn’t really) I would hope that latter but I’m sure that’s up to the reader. What was your interpretation?

    • I agree with the meaning behind the flag scene. Thought it was a great callback. What I was curious about was how you read the final few panels, with Fury clutching the mic, closing his eyes, and the gun being in the foreground. Maybe I should’ve been more clear.

      My first thought was that when he closed his eyes, perhaps this was the moment he’s been waiting for; The final sleep from which he wouldn’t wake up. But the fact that his head is still held up, and the focus on the gun had me curious. Ennis has painted a Fury that would probably never eat a bullet, so maybe the gun was just indicative of the fact that, in the end, this is all he’s left with. The one constant companion has been this instrument of death. Despite the whores, the cigars, and the booze, the strongest addiction is war itself. It’s all he knows. After recording it all, knowing full well that it would never be heard and most likely destroyed, the only thing left is his weapon. It’s never out of reach, and we’ve seen him chase away anyone who knocks on the motel room door, but maybe that’s not the only reason it’s there. Maybe if pouring his soul into a microphone didn’t grant him the catharsis he was hoping for, he knew he could rely on the weapon.

      I might be reaching. Just spitballing, really. I thought it was an interesting choice on Parlov and Ennis’ part.

    • Wow yeah I was actually wondering about that as well. The first thing I thought of was Suicide and then the second was him dying of old age but I don’t think that is possible for Nick Fury even in the Max version of the Marvel Universe. Your theory about that page is really spot on though. I like the idea of all that’s left is the gun. What’s even more interesting to me now is the contrast of those two scenes together. Like the former being this is where we are and the latter being this is what was intended. Maybe? Idk, I picked Hawkeye for my pick of the week because as I wrote there my wife and I both love dogs to the point of it being a little extreme but with that said I’m almost thinking of going with this instead just because there is so much to unpack here. Like where not even talking about some of the other amazing stuff like Fury’s conversation with the grand daughter or the Vietnamese enemy that he meets by the memorial wall in DC. There is just so much going on here and it’s pretty amazing.

    • Agreed. For fans like us who read dozens of books a month, the sign of a truly wonderful comic is one you’re still thinking of days later. I’d love to read some kinda commentary/director’s cut special edition collection on this one. So much to chew on.

    • Commentary would be great. Hopefully they put something together for the second trade. Also I read a little bit of what Nick Lowes essay at the end of the book and supposedly Ennis and Parlov have something else in the works. Not sure if it’s in the Marvel Universe but can’t wait to see what they have in store. As far as what we were talking about before what do you think of the connection between the final two pages where Fury passes out with the “Tek on the Dresser”* and the page where Fury’s friend tells him what the flag means to him?

      *as a young Nasir Jones would say

    • Yeah, I read that too. Whatever their next project is, count me in.

      I agree wholeheartedly with your interpretation. I think it was a beautiful way to show how they started out and what they both turned into, specifically Fury. I adore stories that take us through a characters entire lifespan. Particularly when it’s a comic whose artist can show the mileage on a character in a believable way, as Parlov can in spades. What he and Ennis were able to accomplish in 13 issues is nothing short of astounding. Like Josh mentioned, the economy of storytelling is ridiculously impressive. But yeah, having young Fury, full of piss and vinegar, on a page opposite the shell of a man he becomes was tremendously effective. Just brilliant work all around.

  17. Every time Garth Ennis teams up with Goran Parlov, they make gold.

    Everyone go pick up their work on PunisherMAX Volume 6, 9 and the PunisherMAX: Barracuda miniseries. It’s a different tone, but it’s all still amazing work and some of my favourite comics ever.

  18. I know I’m really beating a dead horse here, but this series was awesome from start to finish and definitely worth checking out when they release it in trade. I’m really glad that Ennis has the clout to get something like this off the ground, even if it’s only for a little while.