Review by: comicBOOKchris

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Avg Rating: 4.4
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Size: pages
Price: 3.99

After reading this book, consider me back on the Punisher bandwagon.

Punisher Max #1 is ment to accomplish a few tasks. First, this book sets out to obiterate the bad post-Ennis taste that seems to be in the mouths of all the Punisher readership. I have not read any of the issues after Garth Ennis left the title, but whenever I read reviews of them, they all seem to have some stigma that relates to these issues being in the shadow of his epic run. Whether these people are wrong or right is debatable, though seeing as this run was so monumental and did such great things for the Punisher character, the ill feelings people have are understandable. Oddly enough, though, another thing that Punisher Max #1 sets out to acomplish is the continuation of the tone that Ennis created with the Punisher’s MAX universe, which entails that much loved combination of true-life crime grit and bizarre Miike-like violence. This isn’t an easy thing to do, since it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation. The only way to ensure a positive outcome is to just but some great creators that are proven to deliver great work. Enter Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon, who rise up to the occasion like true pros.

Both Aaron’s script and Dillon’s art are pretty simple, yet they are both highly entertaining. Script wise, we have the familiar scenario of which the major mafia bosses are crapping their pants in fear of being found by the Punisher. This time, their nefarious plan involves creating a fake boss of all bosses (aka, a Kingpin) out of a patsy and a paper trail so that The Punisher will chase that instead of them. Here we get a Punisher Max introduction to everyone’s favorite bald fat man, Wilson Fisk. Much of my enjoyment of this issue comes from Aaron’s interpitation of Fisk, as he’s portrayed as a brutal low level lackey who is silently striving for more, and from the looks of things, he’s going to enact a plan to secretly screw over his bosses and become the true boss of them all. (OK, we all know he’s obviously going to become the Kingpin, just pretend that you have no idea about his Marvel Universe proper history). This is a fun character, and I feel that most of the fun from this arc is going to come from Fisk.

Additionally, Dillon’s art adds great depth to the issue. This type of story seems to play to his strengths as an artist, as its somewhat down to earth, but with a sprinkling of weird elements thrown in, like Fisk popping some dudes eyes out. So naturally, Dillon’s art fits like a glove for this series, so hopefully we can keep him around for the long run. I especially liked his take on Fisk, in which he had that dead behind the eyes look that not only made him look intimidating, but that he was secretly plotting something. Great stuff.

I’m really dug this issue, as it shows exactly why Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon are two of the best comic creators out there. It also succeeds in helping people move away from crying over Garth Ennis leaving the title, as it shows that The Punisher can still be great without him writing it. A definite must read.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. What did you make of the eye-popping? That ruined it for me. As a huge fan of Ennis MAX run (like you) I understand the world this comic exists in — something closer to ours than regular 616. No other superheros etc, a more real world … but the eye popping thing? That was something out of a cartoon. Squeezing a guys head would crush his skull & kill him (not that anyone could even crush a skull with their bare hands). It wouldn’t make his eyes fall out & just be able to walk around like it’s nothing … & then push them BACK in. If this happened in Ennis’ old Punisher run before MAX, I’d get it, & enjoy it, but here? It just doesn’t fit.

    Very disappointing for me, as I had HIGH hopes for this. 

  2. @WadeWilson: MAX or not, it is still fiction.

    I never got past the third softcover of Ennis’ run because I couldn’t dig the artwork very much at all.  I’m so glad Steve Dillon is drawing.

  3. @wade_wilson:

    The almost cartoonish violence is pretty integral to Ennis’ Punisher. While his run wasn’t overly zany on every page, every once in awhile a bizzarly violent scene was stuck in to give a sharp contrast to the real world drama going on in the script. Example: the character Baracuda, or the fact that The Punisher punched out a polar bear! Like I mentioned, what makes this title great is that it stradles a thin line between cartoony and real life.

  4. @comicBOOKchris- There was two separate phases of Ennis’ MAX — the Welcome Back Frank 30 or so issues, & then the reboot of another 60 + issues. The first 30 issues, was exactly like you said — cartoonish in it’s violence & black humour (this run was where the Polar was punched) & had appearances by Spidey, Wolverine etc.

    The last 60 issue run was completely different tone & set in a totally different universe. Dark, violent & like I said above — set in a more real world like ours where no superheroes exist. This is what I was expecting from Aaron’s Punisher, but now 4 issues in, I see it’s more of the Welcome Back Frank, cartoonish, black humour style. 

    The Barracuda stuff you mentioned, did happen in the 2nd MAX version, & it was pretty over the top, but still at the limits of actually being possible.  

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