Today's Mini-Reviews! has a special theme... Garth Ennis! Yay! So let's do it to it.
The Punisher MAX: Up Is Down and Black Is White
While I have been reading the MAX series from issue one, my favourite arc has to be the fourth one, called Up Is Down and Black Is White, in which some Mob guy desecrates the Castle family's grave and Frank goes on a massive killing spree. This is a perfect example of how Ennis is able to take what is normally a one-note character and mine real humanity and poignancy out of him. This arc sees the return of a couple characters from previous arcs, including Rawlins, the scary guy from the Mother Russia arc. Again, Ennis is capable of the funniest black humour, and the sickest most depraved violence, but he always tops it off with some character work. There's a reason why he's one of my favourite writers.
The Punisher Presents... Barracuda
Taking the most popular new character from the MAX series, Ennis and Goran Parlov follow up with Barracuda after he somehow miraculously survives being stabbed in the eye, having his fingers cut off, a point-blank buck-shot in the chest and left for dead in shark-infested waters. He's hired to be the bodyguard for the hemophiliac son of a mobster while the son goes to a Latin American country to get his "button" and kill El Presidente. Well, Barracuda has his own plans. It's very funny, and full of all those Ennis trademarks, including buttsecks and transvestites, mutilations and mass murder. There's even small character moments in which the hemophiliac son comes to realize that Barracuda was right: nobody should trust anybody. You gotta be hardcore, he intones. It's all very funny.
Ennis and Darick Robertson's 6 issue mini-series about Nick Fury in a real world setting is fairly entertaining. Here, Robertson's pencils are cartoony and nice, rather than sketchy and annoying like in The Authority: Prime. Nick Fury and some old Hydra nemesis go to an island country somewhere and set up shop as advisers, and then play the old Cold War game with each other for fun. With gorgeous covers by Bill Sienkiewicz, this is a great little series.
The Punisher: Cell
This one shot is f*%&ing great. In one single issue, Ennis manages to create an epic story with real depth of character and real suspense. When five famous mobsters end up in prison together, Frank Castle puts himself in jail next to them so he can take them all out at once. Of course, the sh*t hits the fan hardcore and Frank gets to punish these guys, but what's interesting is the complexity of plot that Ennis creates with just so few pages. Highly recommended.
So that's it for Mini-Reviews! for now, I guess. I have more Ennis to read, including Thor: Vikings, his mini-series for MAX, along with Goddess, a Vertigo mini-series, and the fourth hardcover of The Punisher MAX. Look for another Ennis Mini-Reviews! soon.