Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Punisher: Volume 4 Issue 2


The combo of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon is pretty damn unmatched, except by maybe Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch or Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (or Lee and Kirby). Preacher is my favourite non-superhero work ever, and it increases in esteem with each day. So I was tickled pink that I was able to pick up Ennis' initial 12 issue run on The Punisher for Marvel Knights, a more mature imprint of comics.

Instead of the later Punisher that Ennis is much more known for, these first 12 issues are hilarious, big on Ennis-style jokes, and plenty of excessive violence. The first line of the entire series is "...and get a haircut" with Frank holding an Uzi under the chin of a guy with a ponytail and a white suit. Frank then proceeds to blow 'em up real good.

The 12 issues have an overarching plot, about Frank living anonymously in an apartment building, and taking on the Gnucci crime family, with hilarious maiming by polar bear. There's also numerous subplots that Ennis juggles, including three vigilantes modeled after Frank, the unluckiest cop in the world, and a Russian that's indestructible.

After first arc, the series ended, but restarted again with Volume 4. Picking up some of the same plot points, including the seemingly invulnerable Russian, Ennis and Dillon go all out this time, with a fix on an ongoing plot.

In the first issue, the Russian comes back, but this time he's been enhanced by surgery, including breast implants (snort, chuckle). But it's the second issue I want to look at, the one that guest-stars Spider-Man. So essentially, Frank and the Russian are fighting atop of a skyscraper, and Frank is thrown over the side, but Spidey saves him, and because he's a do-gooder, Spidey throws himself at the Russian, trying to help, but each time, the Russian smacks him away as if he were an insect.

Presenting... THE BEST SPIDER-MAN/PUNISHER TEAM-UP EVER WRITTEN:


Yes, only Garth Ennis could write Frank using Spider-Man as a shield. Man that's funny. There's a Friday Night Fight for you, if only Bahlactus hadn't closed the festivities.

Certainly, this issue shows Ennis' disdain for the superhero genre, showing men in garish tights as being ineffectual against real threats in the real world, which include former Soviet war machines. It's only Frank's vicious ruthlessness that wins the day, rather a sense of responsibility or honour. And that's why Ennis kicks ass, because his characters kick ass with no scruples.

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