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Comic reviews Nov 2006 Punisher War Journal – Civil War #1 (Marvel)

Posted by Adrian on November 28, 2006



With the Marvel Universe Civil war in full swing, no other character has such a presence as Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. The lone vigilante that spends copious amounts of time and bullets killing the criminal underworld. Whether overseas, or in NYC. The Punisher by far is the most violent of the Marvel characters and the least restrained as far as character representation by various writers. I imagine Max (Marvel adult series?) comic line in some ways was created to handle a more explicit Punisher series. Which in turn was given to one of the most talented writers in comics today, Garth Ennis. His series is ultra violent with a mix of sex and mayhem which is the standard lore of the Max Punisher series. Astoundingly well written and a captivating series. So I was curious if a general Marvel Punisher Comic can have as much impact as the Max Punisher series by Ennis.

I have always been confused with the Marvel rating series. The generic comic code was replaced with a slightly ambiguous, and somewhat pointless rating system. I think it starts from T+ (for teens and up), A (adult, mature?) then you have Parental Advisory and finally the “explicit” Max series – which pretty much caters for Ennis’s Punisher series. The Punisher War Journal: Civil war #1 falls into the T+ rating. Essentially no matter how explicit the comic is anyone from any age can buy a Marvel comic, the rating system isn’t enforced. At times I wonder why they rate at all, and I worry how that could effect the quality of the story.

So, does a T+ rating effect the quality of the Punisher story? The answer is no. Does this Punisher match up with the current Max Punisher series? The answer is yes.

Matt Fraction is the writer and he does a very good job. Using the Punisher’s dry wit, sarcasm, even general cynicism for the Marvel Universe it’s super-heros and their Civil war – the Punisher is the perfect grey zone between these two sides. But unavoidably, and not intentionally The Punisher is caught up in the Civil War. The Punisher is now pursued by the government enforcers, S.H.I.E.L.D. A clever and nice touch is having The Punisher pursuer be a devout Muslim working for the US government (S.H.I.E.L.D) in tracking down the Punisher. Nothing better in mixing up and creating contradictions and paradox’s in a story; no matter how subtle , especially with a straight down the middle character like the Punisher. The art is amazing, drawn up by Ariel Olivettia. Very exaggerated in character form, reminds me of Bill Sienkiewicz and his early art with Daredevil, but more rendered and cleaner. Aesthetically flawless to look at, beautiful colours and subtle tones. Some what surreal and dreamlike.

So far so good for Punisher War Journal: Civil War. It is violent, it is everything you would expect and more. It’s crafted very well. This is going to be good.

Go get it.


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