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08/23/2018 14:58:08 •••

Quality Writing & Catharsis in Spades

The Punisher MAX is a unique beast among the comics I've read. Not only does it forgo supers and their crazy adventures in favor of far more realistic and reality-based conflicts, it also (across several different series) puts surprising detail and thought into how someone like the Punisher could come to be, with Frank's character stemming not solely from his family being murdered, but from much of his life before that fateful day as well, such as his tours in Vietnam and his growing up in Mafia territory. The result is a main character who, while not incredibly deep and dynamic, is someone whose actions you can understand even if you don't necessarily condone them.

Speaking of which, this series is *incredibly* cathartic. It's not always easy, but Frank spends much of his time giving complete monsters exactly what they deserve and sometimes just a bit more for good measure. I'm not sure how anyone can look at any arc other than Mother Russia and not root for Frank to prevail because holy shit, he's up against real scum almost all the time. And while the man himself is no paragon of virtue, there are enough moments of humanity from him to remind you that he's ultimately a force for good even if he himself is not the nicest guy around.

Oh, and Ennis is a fantastic writer, as always. Not much more to say there without spoiling stuff, but he really shines here.

10/10, would recommend reading with Alice in Chains/Stone Temple Pilots/Soundgarden/similarly grungy bands playing in the background. Really enhances the experience.

06/05/2018 00:00:00


It\'s difficult to think of how to phrase a respectful disagreement when Punisher MAX is, uh... it\'s the comic where Nick Fury celebrates good news by hiring six prostitutes, and I\'m pretty sure it used to be on the Awesome Moments page that he was SUCH A BADASS that he FUCKED ALL OF THEM and it was REALLY GOOD. \"He\'s up against real scum almost all the time\" - yeah, he is, and that\'s why it\'s so boring. Frank VS The Racists. Frank VS The Terrorists. Frank VS The Sex Criminals. Frank VS The Racist Terrorist Sex Criminals. The story is never compelling because Garth Ennis has never written an interesting villain (or story) is his life and they all (with the exception of Barracuda, who I believe survives for a whopping two or three volumes) die at the end of their first storyline because that\'s what Frank does.

It\'s... I am happy that you enjoy this series, but my go-to image of a Punisher MAX fan is a 12 year old boy who snuck into his big brother\'s bedroom so he could steal the comic where the guy in the skull shirt says \'Fuck\' a lot.

06/11/2018 00:00:00

You\'re free to feel that way, clearly we look for/value different things in the stories we consume.

08/11/2018 00:00:00

>The story is never compelling because Garth Ennis has never written an interesting villain

I would contest that. Lots has been said about The Russian, the Saint of Killers, and Herr Starr, among others. For Punisher Max, Nicky (who survives for two arcs) is perhaps more generic, but his backstory and decay make it a compelling watch. There\'s also strong cases to make for Rawlins and the Man of Stone (who also each last for more than one story arc).

08/11/2018 00:00:00

Eh, I can only comment on the Punisher ones. The Russian is a Russian guy. He is very strong. He is also Russian. He is a Russian strong man who is a strong and he puts up a really tough fight against Frank 3 times (despite losing every time) because he is a very strong Russian man who is strong and Russian. He\'s not exactly Lex Luthor.

And then there\'s Rawlins, a guy so evil that he kicked his wife out of a helicopter to be sexually assaulted by the Taliban, and also he says the N word a lot. Which... I mean, yeah, he\'d certainly stand out in a Spider-Man comic, but Garth Ennis\' method of creating Punisher villains is to throw darts at types of criminal and extremely negative traits, so that\'s just run of the mill for him. Maybe Preacher is better but going off his Punisher work, Garth Ennis is just so spectacularly bland and untalented. Let\'s see who we\'ve got; we\'ve the got the incestuous mob boss (oh wait, Kitchen Irish, so... multiple incestuous mob bosses,) we\'ve got the racist sex offenders, we\'ve got the armchair military types who oversaw a variety of historical atrocities, we\'ve got - we\'ve got a whole fucking smorgasbord and completely blandly evil people who are only seen raping and murdering and stabbing and betraying and raping some more and shouting racial profanities and not paying parking tickets.

Garth Ennis\' work consistently reminds me of Shadow the Hedgehog trying to write The Sopranos.

08/12/2018 00:00:00

...I feel bad about having this discussion in the already-vandalized comments section of a review I disagree with, but respectfully so, but...

Garth Ennis is the Spite of the British New Wave. ...I'm probably the only person here familiar with Sentinels Of The Multiverse, sorry. What I mean is, he's smart and talented, but he prefers to write with his dick rather than his brain. That's why his villains are all amorphous clumps of general violence/depravity and specific things he hates, that's why the Punisher is a bit of a confused mess as a character, and that's why the stories tend to be stuck in a bit of a loop, as Elmo described in his review. Because, while he's capable of doing more, being more, he doesn't like to and prefers to just throw things together.

And, I mean... I feel awful saying this after the reviewer has been so kind and gracious with dissenting opinions, but ending the review by essentially saying that listening to a bunch of what I personally consider Crap Music For Angry Teenage White Boys improved the experience for him immensely does not alter my impression that these are comics for angry teenagers and nobody else. Sorry.

08/23/2018 00:00:00

@Spectral Time: I mean, here\'s the thing: different people are into different types of stories and comics and content thereof, clearly I like The Punisher MAX for being a deconstructive but enjoyable take on a long-running and well-known comic book character by placing him in a realistic setting without superheroes present to save the day and letting him deal with real-world organizations/gangs/situations, while you and Elmo 3000 dislike it for being tasteless and lazy and offensive and so on - to you. And that\'s fine! Nothing is liked by everyone, you two and others are free to not like it. But I do, and clearly there\'s a considerable fanbase for this series out there, judging by Two Best Friends Play mentioning it a lot and a lot of the tone (and even some of the characters) of this run making it into the Netflix series they released last year. So when I recommend music to listen to while reading this, it\'s not because I\'m an Angry Teenage White Boy who lives on the edge and hates society and blah blah blah, nor because I think anyone who might take me up on that advice is as well: I just think there are people out there who deserve a positive review of this series to counteract the one NEGATIVE review it had before I came in, and that I can improve their reading experience in a manner that\'s fairly common for readers in general (playing music in the background). That\'s all, and I take no quarrel with you.

08/23/2018 00:00:00

You\'re a cool dude, but I do like to think I\'m as much taking issue with the comic\'s problems as a story as with how it was very much Not For Me. Still, again, I appreciate you being a good sport about it.

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