Snap Reviews: The Punisher Vol. 3: Franken-Castle

17 Nov

The Punisher looks like Frankensteins monster! WTF?

Review of Punisher (8th series 2009) #11-#16 Franken-Castle
-Collected in The Punisher Vol 3 by Marvel Comics
 -Review By Stewart Loud

Now I’ve heard that this story arc has upset a lot of Punisher fans and I can totally understand why it would. To be fair it’s a really odd direction for Rick Remender to take The Punisher in after his outstanding run of Punisher comics during Marvels Dark Reign which I enjoyed every bit as much as Garth Ennis’ acclaimed Marvel Knights run. They did print a few messages on the letters page from fans moaning that the Punisher had been ruined by the changes and I have to admit that when I learned that Frank Castle was to be turned into a Frankenstein’s monster style abomination ,when I was already reeling from seeing my absolute favourite comic character get carved up by a B-list villain like Daken in The List, I was fully prepared to be upset by this story. But I’m a Punisher completionist and for better or worse I collect and read every comic with his name in the title. So read them I did! And do you know what? I’m really glad I did.

I don’t like the Punisher just because he kills criminals and has all his stories rooted in realism. I like him because of his uncompromising commitment to punish and kill evil people without being held back by all the moral red tape that prevents a lot of the other Marvel characters from killing serial murderers, rapists or whatever no matter how much they deserve it and that part of his character is very much alive in this storyline. Of course I like that he’s usually just an ordinary soldier with only his whit’s, training, experience and equipment to rely on ( I loved seeing him go up against the Hood and his followers in Remenders previous 10 issues. Frank just sees super powered villains as targets that need to be shot with a bigger gun!) but since The Punisher has been around for 35 years now this is not necessarily the way things have to stay all the time. In any case there’s still the Punisher Max for gritty realism and Frank isn’t gonna stay like this for ever anyway.

Any story concept ,no matter how strange it may seem, can be fun to read if it’s well written. Just as a great idea can be ruined by crappy writing. For example, in the 3rd series of the Punisher back in 1995 The Punisher became the head of a mob family which ,while sounding like an interesting idea, it really, really wasn’t. Then during the Purgatory mini series, Frank returns from the dead as some sort of angelic super soldier with infinite pocket space for holding weapons in a magic coat. Sounded ridiculous but it wasn’t bad at all. However, when they used the same story arc for a Wolverine/Punisher team up called revelations it was one of the biggest wastes of paper Marvel ever published.

Now I don’t want to give to much of what happens away (I hate reviews that do that) in case any of you decide to buy the comics but here goes. Frank Castle is resurrected by Morbius the living vampire who has stitched and bolted his remains back together along with a good measure of mechanical parts after the rooftop mullering he received from Daken son of Wolverine. Morbius, along with his comrades Manphibian and Jack Russel the werewolf (fantastic names) are part of the Legion Of Monsters who are attempting to defend the Earths largely peaceful monster population from a group of fanatical Japanese monster hunters led by a 150 year old lunatic called Robert Hellsgaard. Frank, having gone from being what many would call a metaphorical monster ,with a body count in the thousands after decades of punishing the wicked, to becoming an actual physical monster decides to make the Legion Of Monsters’ war his own as repayment for bringing him back from the dead. What ensues is one of the most violent storys the Punisher has ever been in! And not only violent but gory! As well as a lot of the characters and plot devices being straight out of a horror movie so are the fight scenes. For the most part the incredibly detailed artwork is done by Tony Moore. There seems to be so much going on in each panel that I can’t remember the last comic I read where I spent so much time examining every inch of the background and scenery. The fights are downright chaotic with limbs and heads flying in every direction which meant I spent even more time looking at these panels to try and keep track of how many villains The Punisher had dispatched! All the action is accompanied by The Punishers crisp, dry, trademark inner monologue that Remender does so brilliantly so that no matter how outlandish or surreal the situation gets you never forget who it is in the thick of it and who’s comic it is!
Tony Moore is also incredibly good at illustrating the emotion on the faces of the characters. Both human and the myriad of creatures that populate a lot of the pages. When you see a fish man learn of the death of his children you really can see the pain in his expression despite his inhuman appearance. I really did feel sorry for a lot of the monsters who were butchered by the extremists because of the obvious terror etched across their faces.

During this story you’re gonna see Frank in situations you probably never dreamed you’d see him in. Nazi zombies? any body who tells you they saw that one coming is a massive liar! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a total blast to read. If you really are a hard core Punisher fan then you’ll love this and if you’ve never read Punisher but you like horror and action then you’d probably love this too. I enjoyed all 6 issues from start to finish and I’ve already pre-ordered the graphic novel collecting these 6 comics, the following 5 Franken-castle issues and 2 tie in issues of Dark Wolverine. I should be getting that in early December so you can expect a review of that shortly afterwards

Rating: 7/10

About the Reviewer:

Stewart Loud has agreed to voice some of the deranged ramblings that are his opinions and write some reviews for the Adventures Of M.
He lives in England and his passion for comics began at age 6 with Transformers and now has grown to encompass titles such as 2000ad, Preacher,Aliens and The Walking Dead to Avengers, The Authority, Transformers (still) and his all time favourite comic character The Punisher (can you not tell from the pic?)
He is an absolute Punisher nut and owns almost every Punisher title ever printed along with a good chunk of his appearances in other titles.
If anybody wants to ask him any questions or discuss anything they can find him on the Adventures Of M facebook page regularly updating his latest reads.

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