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The Punisher by Rick Remender Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

Rick Remender’s Punisher is a fun run. It’s not the most important or iconic take on the character, nor is it the writer’s best work at Marvel (or in the industry as a whole). It’s disjointed, it’s awkwardly paced, it seems to resolve itself merely because Remender was moving on to another title, but it’s also fun, exciting and interesting. Somewhat akin to Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider work, it’s a great writer cutting lose with a grindhouse character and concentrating on telling a tale that is entertaining rather than definitive. In many respects, Remender’s Punisher really shouldn’t work half as well as it does, and that’s certainly a testament to the writer’s skill.

Here there be monsters…

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Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (Review/Retrospective)

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up occupies a strange place in Marvel canon. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by a rake of top-tier talent, it was essentially a series designed to showcase these impressive artists while adding a bit of depth and breadth to the then-fledgeling Ultimate Marvel Universe. Essentially a continuity that had been launched from scratch, with the goal of attracting new fans put off by decades of back story in the regular shared universe, Brian Michael Bendis had pioneered the line with his superb Ultimate Spider-Man, a book that he is still writing today (albeit in a slightly different form). Due to its nature, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up is a somewhat disjointed effort, where quality varies almost from issue-to-issue, but it’s still worth a look for anybody with any interest in Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man work.

Who says there aren’t crocodiles in the sewer?

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Acts of Vengeance: The Punisher vs. Doctor Doom (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

I tend to like my Punisher stories with a hint of the ridiculous about them. I seem to be the only person who thought that Garth Ennis did his best work on the character as part of Marvel Knights rather than Punisher MAX, because I tend to think the character works best as a sort of an absurd straight man in mainstream comics. He is, after all, a character who uses superhero iconography (a giant skull on his chest, no matter how stripped-down the iteration) while being a guy with a gun who likes to kill criminals. I’ve always felt that the character required a suspension of disbelief that that only really worked if he was played just slightly ridiculous. Of course, that’s my opinion, and I seem to be in the minority on this, but it probably explains why I found Mike Baron’s tie-in to Acts of Vengeance – pitting the Punisher against Doctor Doom – to be so much damn fun.

Closing in to seal his doom…

Note: The always wonderful Chris Simms took a more indepth look at this unlikely crossover on Comics Alliance, perfectly capturing the wonderful insanity of it all.

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Marvel Knights: Punisher by Garth Ennis Omnibus

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.

Solo act again. No Micro. No gimmicks: no fancy ammo, no battle-vans, no high-tech surveillance. Just the basics. Been gone a while. Distracted. The scum in this city need a wake-up call. And here it comes.

– Frank Castle gives us a mission statement

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how big a mess the Punisher was in before Garth Ennis got his hands on the character. The fascination with “darker and edgier” in the nineties had given the character a huge boost, but it was quickly wasted. From a character who had supported multiple books during the “boom” years, he was reduced to one core title with a radical new direction. Imagining the Punisher as some sort of avenging angel figure hadn’t worked out, so it seemed like that character was truly struggling to keep his head above water. Then Garth Ennis arrived, writing a twelve-part maxi-series that would be the first step in a long and fruitful relationship with the character. He didn’t try to radically revamp the character, opting for a back-to-basics approach with a healthy dash of black humour, realising that there was something inherently absurdist about a gun-carrying psychopathic killing machine with a skull on his chest, sharing a universe with angels and demons and superheroes.

Welcome back, Frank...

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