• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Hardcover, Vol. IV (Review)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

I don’t know. It seems like, at times, I run hot and cold to Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX run. It’s frequently cited as one of the great runs of modern comics, and there are moments when – if I squint – I can see hints of that masterpiece everybody is taking at. At other times, it seems I’m wandering in the desert, staring at a perfectly functional comic book, trying to figure out what everybody is making such a big fuss about. This penultimate collection of Ennis’ run contains two great examples of this. On one hand, the collection opens with the incredibly pedestrian Man of Stone, while it closes with the smarter-than-it-appears Widowmaker. Neither story is a masterpiece, but the latter has a lot more insight than I’ve come to expect from the series, while the former takes an interesting premise and does nothing with it.

The Punisherette?

Continue reading

Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Hardcover, Vol. III (Review)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

I think I’m finally getting the hang of Ennis’ run on Punisher MAX. It seems that it’s pretty much positioned between two extremes: bleak nihilistic cynicism and depressing absurdist black comedy. I don’t think that any collection of Ennis’ work illustrates these two extremes quite as well as this one, collecting both The Slavers and Barracuda – the former undoubtedly Ennis’ darkest work on the title and the former probably the most ridiculously cynical comedy the writer has drafted for the character (at least on the MAXline). It certainly makes for one weird cocktail.

Frankly my dear...

Continue reading

Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Hardcover, Vol. II (Review)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

There’s a dream I have from time to time. And in the dream I don’t stop. I kill the soldiers and the hitmen, the extortioners and racketeers, the dark old &%^@s who send them out to fight– I hold the trigger down until they’re all gone–

But I don’t stop.

The innocents are just watching, like always. The slack jawed thousands, gazing at the beast. My family lie red and shredded in the grass. I face the crowd and bring the weapon to my shoulder. If my world ends, I tell them, so does yours.

The recoil starts and I wake up.

It’s  just a dream, I always tell myself. It’s just a dream.

It’s just a dream.

– Frank Castle, Up is Down and Black is White

You know, I’m not entirely sold on the format of Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX. It seems a strange thing to say, given how I’m slowly starting to appreciate what the writer is doing with the character, but I’m not convinced that the rigid six-issue structure that Ennis is adopting fits the character particularly well. Don’t worry, I know it’s a very strange and irrational complaint to have – partially because there’s so much else going on that merits discussion, and also because six-issue arcs have become the industry norm (because they fit the size of a trade paperback). That said, I think may have figured out why it bothers me so.

Gun play...

Continue reading

Garth Ennis’ Run on Punisher MAX – Born (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’re going to take a look at Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis’ run on that iconic Marvel anti-hero, The Punisher. Check back every Friday and Wednesday for a review of a particular section.

There are comic book characters that are so closely tied to one particular writer that you pity anybody trying to write them. The X-Men have Chris Claremont (although I do love Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run), Daredevil has Frank Miller (although he also has Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker), Hulk has Peter David and (I firmly believe) Green Lantern has Geoff Johns. Somehow, through some fluke, occasionally comic book characters manage to stumble across a writer who fundamentally understands them. I’d argue that this is the benefit of having these characters survive in print – none of these runs were by the original authors. Anyway, to get to the point, the Punisher has Garth Ennis.

The last Castle...

Continue reading