Archive for January, 2009

Punisher War Zone: the Last Hurrah

January 16, 2009

punisher-wz Punisher War Zone

(6 issues, weekly; Marvel Comics)

Some things were meant to be together: peanut butter and jelly; coffee and cigarettes; Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. That last pair is perhaps my favorite writer/artist team working in comics today. It was about a decade ago when Ennis, hot off the heels of The Preacher, brought back a character that I swore I would never read again. What’s more impressive is that he managed to keep writing it well for all that time since. No, Dillon didn’t do all the art in that time, but I’m glad that he came back for this last hurrah, if this is indeed Ennis’ last take on The Punisher.

For those that haven’t seen Dillon’s work previously, check out The Preacher. This was a great Vertigo series (also written by Ennis), and it is where he mastered the “I am so fucked” facial expressions required for some of Ennis’ less-fortunate characters. I don’t know how to explain why Dillon’s work is so perfect with an Ennis script, other than something about his art captures the subtlety (and the not-so-subtle) of Ennis’ dark humor.

As for Ennis, well, what can you say? He was able to resurrect a character that had long been left alone because it had gotten ridiculous. To briefly go on a tangent, sometimes I honestly think Marvel editors sit in a room and say “Hey, you know that thing we did that made this book really great? Let’s stop doing that!” It pains me to see a new non-Max Punisher series, especially not written by Ennis, trying to bring the character more inside the mainstream Marvel universe. One of the things Ennis got so right about his take on Frank Castle is that he was fighting criminals, not super-villains. Aside from the occasional kicking of Daredevil’s ass, the Punisher has no business being in the same comic with any of the super-heroes. See the recent Punisher-Sentry one-shot thing to see why. It is absurd.

If it were up to me, no one except Garth Ennis would write The Punisher; once Ennis stopped sending scripts, we’d stop publishing it. But hey, it is Marvel after all. You knew they were going to fuck it up eventually. Get your last hurrahs with this weekly (yes, weekly!) mini-series, Punisher War Zone, which is wrapping up next week.