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February Comic Reviews 2007 – Punisher War Journal – Civil War #3 (Marvel)

Posted by Adrian on February 6, 2007

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Punisher War Journal – Civil War #3 (Marvel)

In one word BRILLIANT. Punisher War Journal is such an entertaining comic. I can’t praise this comic enough. A continuation from #2, as the Punisher walks in on Captain America’s deal with two super criminals (as they fear the registration act too). Of course the Punisher kills them (you would too, if you saw the outfits these guys were wearing!). This sends Captain America into a frenzy, attacking the Punisher, calling him a “killer”. #3 is the Captain America’s beatdown of the Punisher. Matt Fraction brings in some past history of the Punisher, prior to the Vietnam war and prior to Frank Castle becoming the Punisher. So, as Captain America is physically beating the life out of The Punisher, we get an insight into why the The Punisher is not fighting back. If you are not aware of the Punisher lore, Frank Castle (aka the Punisher) sees only villains and good guys, no middle ground. You are either good or bad, a criminal, murderer, rapists or not. It’s Fraction exploring that differentiation that Frank Castle developed when he was a Marine. Then we find out that pre Vietnam War pre Punisher. Captain America visited his army base to train Marines in hand to hand combat. Captain America asks Frank Castle to attack him, and he refuses. So this is the first beat down by Captain America, inflicted on Frank Castle. You have two extremes of the spectrum here, two completely indifferent people. Captain America and the Punisher, as a team up that could never work. After Captain America’s crazed attack on the Punisher (after the Punisher kills Gold Bug and The Plunderer). Captain America says to the Punisher, “we had a deal”, the Punisher replies, “I don’t make deals”.

Thus is the beginning of the end of Frank Castles, aka The Punisher “choosing a side” in the Civil War. For me, this Civil War story has reveled two things, how completely unappealing characters Tony Stark (Ironman) and Captain America are. Whether they are written deliberately like that by Mark Millar, Ironman comes across as a obsessed, almost fanatical in enforcing the registration act. On the other side, Captain America comes across as a ‘do gooder’ riddled with hypocrisies and delusions of maintaining the ‘status quo’. Both highly irritating characters. Thankfully, the Punisher was that wedge, between those to neurotic sides. A wedge that couldn’t care less, The Punisher has always been at war, a war against the criminal underworld.

So, after getting a severe beatdown by Captain America, (The Punisher didn’t fight back). He (Captain America) is pulled off The Punisher, by Spiderman. The final dialogue, is Captain America walking away and saying “Frank is insane”, Frank aka The Punisher saying, “don’t worry, he knows I won”. Fraction also reiterates and verifies Captain America’s single minded patriotic, ‘American Spirit’ mentally. It shows Captain America, as a character full of his own self importance – with a short memory. Sound familiar?

Although the Punisher does see criminality as ‘black and white’, he is far more complex and human in some ways than Captain America.

Now Fraction has detached the Civil War story from the Punisher’s return to the Marvel Universe (unrelated to the Garth Ennis MAX Punisher run), now we see the real action begin. The contracted S.H.E.I.L.D agent G.W Bridge is still after Frank, Frank’s new weapons smith Stuart Clarke is under investigation, nice panels showing the agent G.W Bridge talking to Clarke in his loft. With Clarke using one of his cute little Ironman robots heads as a golf ball. Of course Bridge knows Clarke is working with the Punisher, leaves, and send his troops in. Clarke being a savvy inventor (albeit a bit mental too), is aware he is under scrutiny. Grabs his Ironman duplicate power vest and takes out the S.H.I.E.L.D troops – in the process propels him self through his building window, into the adjacent building. Clarke then makes his way down to his new hideout, where an injured Punisher is recuperating. Ariel Olivettia draws up a great panal, with the disoriented and battered Punisher being told by Clarke to check out the weapons he has been gathering (look out for the full scale missiles!).

After getting back into the scheme of things, he hunts down the Rhino, as Rhino charges at him, he takes him out with a high powered gun (sought of gun type bazooka), put’s on a “devils claw” fist (allows you to achieve greater punching power), and punches the Rhino down the street. Just before inflicting bodily damage on Rhino, he informs the Rhino, that he is back, let all the scum know. This is the beginning of the Punisher as he now re-enters the wider Marvel Universe again. Let the mayhem ensure.

I have said before and I will say it again the art is incredible. There is so much emotion drawn into the comics main characters. Ariel Olivettia is such a good artist and has a very unique style. I mentioned this before in a previous review. But it reminds me of Bill Sienkiewicz and his art from the early nineties comics that he worked on. Olivettia art has a defined clean style but with a cartoonsish abstract feel to it. Skin tones are clean and detailed. Very nice.

Watch out for the end of #3,with the the Punisher pursuer, the contracted S.H.E.I.L.D agent praying in a Mosque. Nice touch.

Buy this comic.

go here for list of Villains maimed or killed by the Punisher so far.

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