Tags Matching: Garth Ennis

Punishment- Punisher Max Style

“Come on God answer me. For years I’ve been asking you, why are the innocent dead and the guilty still alive? Where is justice? Where is punishment? Or have you already said to the world, ‘here is justice, here is punishment’, here in me”. These are the words of the immortal Dolph Lungren who has probably done the best job of portraying Marvel’s Punisher. As sad as it is to say the 1989 Punisher movie directed by Mark Goldbatt [Dead Heat anyone?] is still the closest thing we have to a good Punisher movie. Sure Thomas Jane gave it a good shot in the 2004 Punisher movie , but he was hampered by a shitty script and John “aww jeez” Travolta. Then there was The Punisher Warzone movie which we shall never speak of. However Punisher Warzone was intended to be a film adaptation of The Punisher Max series which has become a rebirth for one Marvel’s blackest sheep. The Max series was the Punisher re-imagined by Garth Ennis, best known for his work on Preacher and Hellblazer; with Punisher Max he created a hard edged, real world take on The Punisher’s universe. The Punisher’s typical rogues gallery is not present in the series, the villains were instead made up of much more monstrous beings such as pedophiles, human traffickers , mass murdering war criminals, etc … The stories in the Max series are far more brutal than anything Marvel has published before, and never has a character been more befitting of such a setting. The Max series allowed for a “no holds barred” approach for the Punisher, featuring copious amounts of violence, foul language, nudity, and all the stuff that made R-rated movies so much more fun as a kid. In this story line, the forth volume of the Max series, The Punisher is baited into a full scale war with Mafia after newly appointed mob boss Nicky Cavella digs up the graves of Frank Castle’s family and pisses on their remains, all the while videotaping the event and sending it to local new stations. What follows is one of the greatest retributions in comic history as The Punisher massacres all held accountable. Up is Down Black is White describes what happens to The Punisher when he loses control of his thirst for vengeance, nothing can stop him. This is The Punisher as he was meant to be, unrelenting, ferocious, a nightmare to those who prey upon the innocent. If you haven’t read a Punisher comic before or if you just haven’t picked one up for a while then this is the place to start. Unfortunately Ennis stopped writing Punisher Max somewhere around issue 60, which is when it was subsequently cancelled and then brought back with new artists and writers. This volume features art from Leandro Fernandez who perfectly captures the level of violence that The Punisher is capable of, this is justice, this is punishment.

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The Boys.

I never want it to be said that I’m unfair, so I took the liberty of catching up with the complete (so far) run of The Boys this past weekend. Never been a big fan of it, since for the most part I feel like the concept has been played out and that Garth Ennis’ habit of painting costumed superheroes as closet cases and psychos is past deconstruction and just bordering on mean for the sake of it. Fortunately, after reading it in one sitting, my opinion has changed. Slightly.

Do I still find The Boys mean spirited? Yes. But not as much as I once did, as there’s actually a bit of heart under there. Especially when it comes to Wee Hughie. He really is a likable character (being based off Simon Pegg, one of the most instantly likable faces in acting, obviously helps), even when he’s being made to look like a fool. But when it comes to the superheroes, it’s nothing but spite and vitrol and perversion all the way. The rare exceptions are humiliated pretty much through out, even as they strive towards better. BUT…

…it’s turns out that The Boys is a great read. I seriously couldn’t put it down. The Boys themselves are all as intriguing as the main heroes are predictably perverted and villainous, and for the most part the revelations behind both of them are satisfying. The plot twists and turns enough to keep things interesting, even with one or two of the story lines falling flat (this is due in part due to the occasional sabbaticals from Darick Robinson; legendary Judge Dredd penciler Carlos Ezquerra doesn’t bring his A game to the issues he covers and Herogasm/regular fill in artist John McCrea is just plain bad), and I absolutely want to see where Ennis is going with this.

I still can’t say I care for the number of times Ennis beats the “superhero does kid sidekicks” drum, or any number of perverted superhero trope drums for that matter; when it comes to his villains misdeeds he doesn’t get very creative all that often. But can I say that I’ve changed my mind and that I actually like the series? Yes. Yes I can.

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