Monday, February 19, 2018


This continues Garth Ennis's famous run on The Punisher, and saying he stepped his game up in this one is an understatement. I enjoyed the three story arcs in the first collection but this volume seems like it could've even been written by a different person. Frank Castle's personality and character shine brighter darker, I felt much more connected to him, the action is even crazier, and all of the stories are even more compelling. While at times the first book and it's character's and events felt a little cheeky, especially with some of the supporting characters, everything here seems way more genuine and confident and didn't feel like it was playing for jokes.

It begins with the "Mother Russia" story, which sees Castle on a rare mission to save a kidnapped little girl from a silo in Russia, a girl who happens to be carrying a deadly retrovirus in her bloodstream. It's like a blockbuster action movie that had me on the edge of my seat, with a lot of it due to it's breakneck pacing and the cutting of parallel action between Castle, the American generals, and the Russian generals. And it guest stars Nick Fury, who pretty much steals the whole show.

It then moves on to the insane "Up is Down, Black is White," which brings the return of crazed Mob guy Nicky Cavella, who has the dumb-as-nails idea to dig up The Punisher's dead family and piss on their skeletons just to draw him out. So you can obviously guess the violent insanity that happens subsequently. There are many returning characters here that really bring flavor to this one. Agent O'Brien and her relationship with Frank is one of the highlights of this story.

And finally we get to "The Slavers," the best story in the collection and considered by many to be one of the best Punisher stories ever written, where Frank stumbles onto a sex slave trade in New York and decides that he can''t stand around and do nothing about it. The story of the girls, the two well-meaning uniform cops, the nasty villains, and the morally-torn social worker are all richly-written and really make this story stand out. It's gripping stuff and very memorable, not only with the action but also with the reverence with which Ennis tackles the issue of sex slavery. And it's all topped off with a powerful ending.

This really impressed me and I hope the subsequent collections keep this same quality. And if not, both this volume and the first one (6 stories in total) will be collected in a complete omnibus which will be released this summer. If you're a fan of the well-received Netflix show, do yourself a favor and read this. This one's a stunner.


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