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Monday, March 29, 2004

No.. not vengeance. 

Article about the Punisher over at Broken Frontier.

Okay, it's not so much an "article" as it is a glossy description of what the Punisher's been doing since Garth Ennis took him over. Honestly, I'm not sure what the point of this piece was; only thing it does is give a very general description of what the Max line is like. If that gets a few more people to pick it up, then I guess mission accomplished...

And then there are the parts of the article that are just plain false. I don't fault the writer for that. I fault general misconception that most people seem to be holding.

The series started off quite strong, but Garth’s disdain for super heroes started to take over. The book went from sly satire to all out parody, with over the top gross out humor and violence that didn’t serve the character, well, at all.

Sure, sly satire is always present in Ennis's works. And sometimes it ain't so sly. But I'm kind of wondering if this guy's just thinking of the "Confederacy of Dunces" arc that closed out the Marvel Knights imprint, a necessary step for Ennis to sever Frank's ties with the dudes in tights so he could get on with the more serious MAX imprint?

I certainly see no superhero parody in "Streets of Laredo," an interesting blend of Western and Texas justice. Or "Brotherhood," a 3-parter examining corruption and heroism in the thin blue line. Or how about issue #19, "Of Mice and Men," detailing Frank's last encounter with Joan the Mouse, and perhaps my single favorite issue of Ennis's entire Punisher run? It's funny, brutal, poignant, and provides real closure... all in 22 pages. When was the last time you found a writer and artist distill their greatest talents into a single issue?

And nary a cape in sight. I could pull out quite a few more examples, but you're starting to get the idea, right?

The writer is quite right in two respects, though: Born is a masterpiece, and the MAX imprint has been a grand slam every single issue. Lewis Larosa's artwork has been perfectly moody and grim, and Dean White's colors have complimented everything in somber tones. Larosa is, sadly, rather unappreciated. I'll be sad to see him go.

And really, does the Punisher belong anywhere else but on the MAX line?

Anyway: Buy the Born hardcover. Get into the MAX series; it's only three issues in. You want to see Frank Castle as the uncompromising war machine we know him to be, and perhaps get little peeks under the hood to see what makes him tick... this is your book.

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