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Overview on ‘Punisher’ #54 – “LONG COLD DARK,” PART 5. Writer Garth Ennis. Art Goran Parlov (Max Comics)

Posted by Adrian on January 31, 2008

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‘Punisher’ #54 – “LONG COLD DARK,” PART 5 (MAX/MARVEL)

Barracuda is dead.

Garth Ennis created one of the most interesting and unique psychopaths that has been seen in popular culture, as far as comics book characters go. A complex, psychopathic character who happens to be an African American. What makes the character unique is that he defies racial stereotyping, yet reflects aspects of the the African American stereotype. Make sense? Ok, a character that after a while even with the ‘ghetto’ slang, the hip hop culture references ends up being stand alone human monster (whether black or white). A creation of society, a society that has ‘flicked on’ his psycho genes, a damaged and deranged human, that wants too take it out on the world – and he does. Ennis writing Punisher #54 reveals the full dark scope of Barracuda’s mind. Remember, Ennis wrote up a amazing mini series of Barracuda; please check out my review on morbius glass titled Punisher presents Barracuda 1# and 2# (MAX Comics). The short Barracuda run on Max comics, was essentially Ennis’s homage to ‘blax exploitation’ cinema of the 70’s, with some grind house influence and general tongue and cheek (with extreme graphic violence). But as I mentioned earlier with Barracuda retuning in Punisher #54, the darker, psychotic and obsessive side of a deranged character comes to the boil.

A scheming killer who is planning to kill, humiliate and destroy the Punisher, and all connected to him. Which is nobody really, since he is solitary vigilante. Until we discover that the Punisher has a daughter. The daughter is from a encounter with a great character called Kathrine O’brien, who is killed in Afghanistan.

Punisher #54, is by far the most disturbing Punisher I have read to date, the insanity of the villain Barracuda, the sheer violence in the comic – the fact there is a little child bearing witness to it all. It’s a challenging comic to read. The art is just so good, Goran Parlov in my opinion has defined popular culture icons in the 20 Century and 21st century and drawn them into a story, almost with a glossy vulgarity about them. I mean you look at the absurdity of mainstream pop culture icons, say for example the rapper 50 cent, the pornesque influenced celebs of America – with all the gloss and bravado of a consumer culture. Parlov portrays that onto a comic with an ugly reminder of a pre-fabricated pop culture society that utilizes icons, that in reality underneath is a shitty, sleazy, bloody world. He has an incredible skill in caricature.

In saying that, in regards to Parlov’s art. Ennis is able to write into a story, the cold reality of violence in a modern society. The Punisher stands as the justice, that in some ways doesn’t exist in a corrupt world. Is the world corrupt? Of course it is. The Punisher , or Ennis’s version of the Punisher combats that corruption, from the sex slave trade industry, corporate crime, organized crime, drugs, you name it the Punisher has covered it, in a bloody trail of Punishment and a protection of the innocent, bystanders and everyday person.

Punisher #54 is a dark read, we see the Punisher pushed to the mental and physical limit with Barracuda. With Barracuda using Frank Castle’s (The Punisher) child as leverage, trying to find a opening to kill the Punisher. It’s a bloody, violent, and intense ending to the Barracuda and Punisher meet up; we learn a little more about Barracuda’s past, albeit when he (Barracuda) is under stress (tortured and bound by the Punisher) – flash backs to a time when he was a boy, teenager and soldier in Vietnam; we see the structure of a deranged human and the reasons behind that cold blooded, ruthless and insane mental makeup.

A brutal ending, with a baby in a carrier, the Barracuda becoming more deranged by the minute, the Punisher beaten and bleeding. Frantic violence, violence when survival is at stake, violence too protect your child. Suffice to say, the Punisher kills Barracuda, Barracuda almost showing invincibility through out his confrontations with the Punisher – finally meets his demise, and what a demise. With both arms chopped off (via fire axe found in a empty high school), axe left embedded in chest, the Punisher then taking the AK47, which was intended to kill the Punisher, and shooting Barracuda’s head into a pile of meat, brains and blood. Horrendous ending, all this with a baby in the same room.

The end of Barracuda, the end of the arc. Rumour has circulated that Garth Ennis will write one more arc, then quit writing the Punisher series. There could be truth in that with #54, towards the end of the comic, we get a glimpse of an exhausted, weathered and tired Punisher. If Ennis does wrap up he Punisher, will the Punisher finish on MAX comics? Since Garth Ennis Punisher pretty much held the MAX label together.

Remains to be seen.

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3 Responses to “Overview on ‘Punisher’ #54 – “LONG COLD DARK,” PART 5. Writer Garth Ennis. Art Goran Parlov (Max Comics)”

  1. Arsh said

    Great review, man.

    Also, just so you know… Punisher MAX will continue after Garth Ennis leaves. Issue 60 is his last issue (The final arc deals with those bastard generals originally encountered in Mother Russia)… I’ve seen art for 61… it’s done by Laurence Campbell, though who’s writing Punisher MAX after Ennis is still a mystery.

  2. […] the incredibly well put together MAX run of Garth Ennis’s Punisher concluded, it was unsure if Ennis would return with another run. Obviously the MAX run had finished on […]

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