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Punisher Review

-by Andrew Goletz

Rating: 8 of 10

Let’s face it: The Punisher hasn’t been interesting since he first got his own series back in the ‘80s. By the time we were halfway through the ‘90s, he had 4 monthly books (including the extremely horrid Punisher 2099). The character of Frank Castle wasn’t just making guest appearances in every main stream super-hero book, but crossing into the meant for adult the ‘Nam, for god’s sake.

Thankfully, Frank Castle was killed off and tucked away into the ‘do not disturb’ files in the core of Marvel’s offices. With the rejuvenation of several ‘B’ characters like Black Panther, and The Inhumans under the Marvel Knights banner, though, Marvel decided to resurrect the Punisher. In a monumental decision of badness, Frank returned as an angel who served heaven and dispensed ‘a new brand of justice’.

When it looked like there was absolutely no hope left for the once popular vigilante, the Preacher team of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon came aboard for a new 12 issue Punisher series.

Garth and Steve made a name for themselves on their original Hellblazer run and garnered even more acclaim for their creator owned Preacher series. Garth actually had some experience with the character, writing a Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe one-shot years ago.

The new Punisher isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It’s not even the best work that Garth and Steve have done. But there is a certain satisfaction that comes from reading the only non code approved book at Marvel that’s written so over the top that you will be left wondering (code or not) how did this ever get passed by the editors. Believe me, that’s a compliment!

In just 4 short issues, we’ve had death by blowtorch, neck snapping, someone being tossed off the Empire State Building, a ton of bullet ridden bodies and the most recent carnage with Central Park as the setting. Boas, piranha, and polar bears, oh my!

Ennis certainly ups the ante on comic book death scenes with every subsequent panel. And there is something of a storyline, as well. Gangster Ma Gnucci and her family are caught squarely in Frank’s cross-hairs and Frank himself is being hunted by law enforcement. We know this won’t end well.

But all of that is secondary. Like a good mindless action movie for the summer, we don’t care about dialogue or meaning in these types of stories; we just want to be entertained. The Punisher is as entertaining a way to pass the time as you can get.

Ennis and Dillon are having the time of their lives with this book, and it really shows. This is another hit for the already popular Marvel Knights line.

Available Monthly from Marvel Comics

Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz