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Comic book reviews for the week of Jan. 14

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Well, 2009 is in full swing -- so what's lookin' good on comic shop shelves thus far? Here's what I'm digging:

Punisher No. 1: I groaned when I heard that Marvel Comics was launching yet another comic book starring the Punisher. I mean, how can one serial killer be that interesting? The last Punisher series that Marvel released -- one that depicted Frank Castle hunting super villains instead of mobsters -- was truly awful and is, thankfully, no longer being published. All that to say, I wasn't excited about another Punisher comic. After I reluctantly read the first issue, however, I was shocked and surprised by how enjoyable it was. It wasn't Watchmen or anything like that, but the premise made sense, the characterization was on point and the art was gritty, cinematic and just plain pretty.

Black Lightning: Year One No. 1: OK, so I wasn't excited about this comic book either. Black Lightning has always been a lame character to me; after all, the dude wore an afro wig. So, no, I was not hyped about reading tales of his first year as a hero. But the story was engrossing and portrayed BL as a rather complex dude ... instead of a one-note B-lister. And the art, by superstar Cully Hamner, is smooth and clean. I'd advise you to give this book a chance.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt No. 2: Last year was another big one for Hellboy -- him with another blockbuster movie and all. Honestly, I enjoy the comics about this paranormal hero more than I do the films about him. And I'm liking this new limited series, too, which pits Hellboy against bloodthirsty giants and crazy humans. The dialogue is creepy and funny; the art is detailed and heavy on the shadows (perfect for a horror comic). Buy it.

Reviewed materials provided by Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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