Review by: TheNextChampion

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Story by Jason Aaron
Art by Steve Dillon
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Cover by Dave Johnson

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

The last arc of Jason Aaron’s Punisher MAX run sums its perfectly: It has its shares of good and bad to read. The Bullseye arc started strong with a great look into a more disturbed mind of Bullseye. But the arc then just delegated to a series of mindless action sequences and as entertaining as they were when first read; it hads nothing to the overall story. The problem with this idea of writing the Punisher is what everyone has a problem with him. It’s that they think they can distract the readers with the mindless action and not tell a really unique story. It’s what made Garth Ennis’s run on the series so spectacular: Because he had time to tell an engaging story with each arc he was able to make the violence the last thing to really look forward too.

The start of the new arc, ‘Frank’, with this issue plagues Aaron’s run just as before. Let me state that this is a fine issue on paper and there isn’t technically wrong with it. The Punisher is injuried in a prision filled with people who want to kill him. He thinks back to where all of this went wrong and how possibly he might be okay with finally dying. The problem lies in the flashback sequences for me. This is basically adding, or piling on I should say, the fantastic ‘Punisher: Born’ mini Garth Ennis did. In fact this flashback seems to take place literally a day right after the ‘Valley Forge’ incident which made Frank Castle the Punisher. The problem is that Aaron is not giving us anything new that Ennis already told us. Frank Castle became a new, violent man after Vietnam and he can’t control his murderous rage once his tour is over. Again none of it is bad per say, but if you’ve been a reading of this series like I have been it’s just Aaron giving us more of the same. Then we have the present day material which is just laughable to read. A group of prisoners surround Punisher’s cell and debate whether they should kill him or not. Another problem of Aaron’s run is in this very sequence with Jason Aaron loving to curse as much as possible. This sequence delegates into nothing but ‘fuck you’s’, ‘shits’ and some ‘niggas’ for good measure. It’s like Aaron was watching an episode of ‘The Boondocks’ and thought: ‘Yeah that’s how people talk’. Aaron could’ve devoted more time into looking at the psychological angle of Punisher more then try to be ‘funny’ with this moment.

The art by Steve Dillon is still top notch though, albiet with a few nitpicks. A lot of this issue is talking heads and for the most part Dillon makes it interesting to look at. Although once again there are tmes where he has the same faces pose for other characters. The crazy soldier Frank talks too in the past looks a lot like Bullseye but with hair, and a skinhead in present day looks an awful lot like Kingpin. But there are some nice touches like giving people specific tattoos or a good detail to injuries. I definitely like his take on a younger Castle who still looks like an average solider, but is creeping towards his present self. The backgrounds does tend to look a little lazy though. The present day prison looks a lot like the past camp in Vietnam with just a few minor differences between them. Overall though the art is definitely a highligh for the issue.

So far Jason Aaron’s deep insight into this version of the Punisher seems to boil down as such. Just stretching a bit more in Garth Ennis’s ‘Punisher: Born’ mini and that’s about it. He bogs the issue down with laughable dialogue coming from the prison inmates and again the narration of the Punisher seems no different from Ennis’s run. Dillon’s art is just as great as every but there does seem to be some noticeable shortcuts to finish the issue. Again this isn’t a bad issue, it’s serviceable as a Punisher story. But I hope next month Aaron gives me a better reason to stick with this title other then making me miss the Ennis run. Cause if it’s more of that, then there’s no reason to keep reading this book.

Story: 2 - Average
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. Saying the narration of Frank is the same as Ennis’ run is a HUGE compliment, that I totally disagree with. Aaron’s version of the Punisher is so different, it’s like a completely different character.

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