Collects: Dark Reign: The List – Punisher, Punisher #11-#16, Franken-Castle #17-21,
Dark Wolverine #88-#89
Writers: Rick Remender, Daniel Way, Marjourie Liu
Art: John Romita JR Jefte Palo
Tony Moore Stephen Segovia
Mike Hawthorne Paco Diaz
Dan Brereton John Lucas
Roland Boschi Andrea Mutti
Review by : Stewart Loud
I already did a review of Punisher #11-#16 a couple of months ago (which can be found here) so I’ll leave out any details of those issues and focus instead on the rest of the impressive amount of comics that this graphic novel collects.
This book brings together every part of the Franken-Castle storyline, from the untimely carving up Frank receives from Daken in The List to him seeking Daken out for some retribution or “punishment” in the pages of Dark Wolverine and his return to normality in Franken-Castle #21.
This isn’t the first time The Punisher has been killed and brought back to life and despite what a lot of other Punisher fans say I think it’s necessary to keep him as a believable character in the Marvel Universe. I don’t mean that having him as a half man half machine monster makes him more believable, because that would be ridiculous. I’m saying this: anyone who fought during the Vietnam war like Frank Castle did would have to be well into his 60’s by now and while the grizzled old veteran with aching joints and a bad attitude thing works very well in the MAX series, when he’s usually murdering simple street thugs using his cunning and military experience, it’s very difficult to accept that a 65 year old man who’s been shot, stabbed, blown up and set on fire more times than any other comic character I can think of (except perhaps Judge Dredd) would be able to take part in the high paced and often acrobatic battles he has with the bizarre range of villains that populate the Marvel Universe. SO. The way I rationalise it is that, every time he dies and is mystically resurrected, he comes back revitalised, younger and at the peak of his athletic, crime fighting condition.
The second half of the book sees Frank, having finished helping the Legion Of Monsters with their own little war, setting about taking some revenge on the most recent people to have stumbled onto his shit list. Mainly Daken! I don’t think I can put in to words just how crap I think Daken is and how much bullshit it was that he could ever kill Frank, even on his worst day. The Punisher has gone up against Wolverine himself on more than a few occasions and not only survived but once left Wolverine minus his face and tentacles underneath a steam roller (The second Marvel Knights Punisher run Garth Ennis wrote) and once he just flat out killed him! (Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe) But none the less here we have him getting chopped in to about 15 different pieces by a “son of” character. Dakens character worked well in the brilliant Dark Avengers series as part of a team but as a stand alone character he’s just pointless. Ooh, he’s like wolverine but younger and more mean and he’s got a big tattoo. We’ve already had Son Of Hulk so what’s next? Son of Thor? Son of Iron Man? TRY HARDER MARVEL! Or don’t try at all. There’s already about a million characters in the Marvel Universe (at least 30% of them crap) and none of the writers seem to have the balls to kill any of them off permanently so why keep introducing new characters anyway? Frank said it best himself “Reputation coattail rider, dressed up like someone else… I built my reputation. Ground up. You? Snuck into the show on another mans back. You’re just a poser.”
Anyway. The second half of the book is more of what was in the first half really. Big over the top silly, fun, fighting action with the Punisher being able to take (and deal out) loads more punishment than usual due to his monstrous form. And to be fair he does give Daken the kicking of his life. He even gives Wolverine himself what’s coming to him when he tries to get involved so I was satisfied with the story. Lots of different artists keeps the visuals constantly changing and interesting. Ranging from the amazing detailed pencil work of Tony Moore (he’s becoming one of my favourite artists) to the lush painted sections by Dan Brereton.
If you’re a serious Punisher fan then you’ll enjoy it. It’s a really good fun read. And a big one at 13 comics! There’s an almost record breaking amount of different artists work in it too. I got my hardback copy for a bargain £17 from amazon.co.uk and it was worth every penny. Plus as much as I’ve enjoyed the change of direction for the Punisher it’s ace to see him returning to normality at the end with a brief bit of grass roots criminal killing!