holy SHIT punisher
really stepping up your game i guess
The Punisher returns in short film “Dirty Laundry”
WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT!
Since I’ve moved to a bigger place I’ve been able to pull a lot of my stuff out of storage. Most recently I got hold of my comic books. I dislike the term “graphic novel” because I think it somehow manages to sound both pretentious and smutty at the same time.
My favorites by far are from the Garth Ennis run on the Punisher Max series. I’ve collected almost all of it and will get around to buying the couple i’m missing soon enough. Ennis’ depiction of the Punisher (Frank Castle) is the definitive one in my eyes, a lone uncompromising vigilante, who doesn’t use killing as a means to an end, killing is his main purpose. This means that a vast majority of the supporting characters and antagonists meet their demise.
Historically, Ennis has no qualms about creating and subsequently killing great characters, which means that, unlike many comic books where villains and sidekicks are too popular to die, you are given a sense of uncertainty reading the Punisher. Not knowing how it’s all going to turn out, who will survive. The way you wish slasher movies still made you feel.
Throughout this run Frank has to deal with villains as diverse as russian slave traders, corrupt CIA agents, war criminals, contract killers, the Irish mob, and shady businessmen and the plot usually involves current events ranging from the war on terror to the slave trade and even corporate fraud. No superheroes or supervillains are present, barring the odd appearance by Nick Fury whose look and characterization are adjusted to fit him firmly within Castle’s world.
To fit with the tone the art design did away with the superheroish elements of the Punisher’s costume, decking him out in trench coat, combat trousers and boots with only the skull image remaining from the original look-on the chest of either a t-shirt, vest or sprayed onto body armor. The Punisher’s face is a scarred mass that aptly resembles a sinister Clint Eastwood, crossed with the Terminator. His build is heavy, but not in an overly muscled bodybuilder kind of way and this really suits the character, his approach to violence. No martial arts gymnastics or bullet time balletics here, this Punisher is vicious and efficient. Never flashy, never slick. See his brawl with the relentless Pitsy, the double whammy ambush in book one and, probably my favorite, the scene where Frank ridicules a dying gangbanger’s pistol grip. See below.
The most crucial touch is that Ennis decided to keep within the Punisher’s original timeline, not adjust it to suit the modern era. This Punisher is a Vietnam veteran (See Born for a take on Castle’s tour of duty there) who has been an active vigilante for thirty years. Might sound unbelievable but when you look at the physique Sylvester Stallone has at 65, at Randy Couture’s last run in the UFC you don’t have to suspend your disbelief too much. This adds weight to the character, mileage and also has an impact on his methodology-See the Thomas Jane version in the movie depicted as an FBI agent to observe the contrast and how that choice affects the character’s actions and behavior.
On the subject of movies it is a sad state of affairs that there hasn’t yet been a really decent screen adaptation of The Punisher. Sure all three versions have some merits and some decent scenes (usually lifted directly from the books) but nothing comes close to the blend of excitement, action, gore and black humor of this series. Which is bizarre considering how cinematic most Punisher comics are.
Back to the point, I strongly recommend these books for fans and newcomers alike. I’d read the Punisher on and off for years, the circle of blood mini series was one of the first comic books I ever read as a child and I loved it. It was actually the book which started my love affair with comic books.
But since then, until Ennis, no Punisher story really matched that. Punisher became irrelevant, outdated, another gun toting muscle man by-product of the Schwarzenegger and Stallone dominated eighties. Then I picked up “In the beginning”, the first pages drew me in instantly, gave me chills and I’ve been hooked ever since…
article by stark