Comic Book Review: The Punisher (2004)

Details: Mostly written by Garth Ennis, but there are multiple writers and artists on this comic book run. All the issues are collected in six volumes/collections. More information about volume one can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/collection/67027/punisher_max_by_garth_ennis_vol_1_hardcover

Score: 7/10

Garth Ennis has largely made his name by writing extremely violent, gore filled comic books. It’s fitting then that he write The Punisher, one of the most violent characters that ever existed.

Additionally there is some confusion with The Punisher (2004) and Punisher Max since they are both named similarly and part of the MAX line of comic books. The Punisher was written by Ennis where Punisher Max was written by Jason Aaron. This is a review of the books written by Ennis.

The story focuses on a The Punisher, a Marvel character that has been around for a long time. Frank Castle was a special forces Vietname War veteran who came home and took his family on a picnic. While there, a mob hit goes wrong and Frank’s entire family gets gunned down. Frank now devotes the rest of his life to killing every single evil criminal in the world, starting with the mob.

The story starts during the Vietnam War. We get to see Frank’s origins and where his killer instinct comes from. It’s nice to get some history on the character and insight into what makes him tick.

We then get back to the present where Frank is back to killing criminals. What makes the Punisher so interesting is that among the heroes owned by Marvel, Frank is the quintessential anti-hero in that he only kills and never holds back. This is a gruesome, adult story with a lot of blood, gore, nudity, and perverse criminal behavior. Frank kills a lot of bad guys.

There are a lot of interesting characters introduced, my favorite of which is Barracuda, a gun for hire with a larger than life personality. There is also the introduction of a love interest, though it goes just about as disastrously as you’d expect. Frank is a bad guy killing bad guys. His world is trash and any relief he can find in this world is almost always followed with pain and death.

What I really enjoyed about this book was how detailed the story was. There’s a lot of technical information about how weapons and criminal organizations work, though I have no idea if any of that’s true. There was a lot of information about the Vietnam War and the military, though I have no idea how much of that was true. You could tell that there was a lot of thought put into these stories.

The art is fine. It’s not spectacular, but it’s enough.

Overall, this was a good read. There were certain story arcs where I felt bored, but there were certainly some high points as well.

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