Once upon a time, there was a book called Preacher. Garth Ennis wrote it and Steve Dillon drew it. It was a series that featured violence, profanity and sex in quantities previously unseen in comics. Preacher was a book that was unlike many others that were published in its time: it was actually good, and the mid to late 90’s aren’t generally regarded as one of comics’ high points.
After Ennis and Dillon ended their 66-issue run on Preacher, they were recruited to do some work across the pond for Marvel. In no time, the Punisher had the E&D stamp on his head, although the Preacher formula had to be considerably watered down to make things appropriate according to guidelines of the Marvel Knights imprint. Dillon eventually left to go do other things (sadly, crappy things like Wolverine: Origins) and Ennis carried on, eventually having a long run on the Punisher with the MAX line. MAX is a good place for the Punisher to be hanging out, and the Vertigo-esque rulebook gave Ennis a way to tell whatever crazy Punisher stories he had kicking around in his head.
All of this introduction is pretty much a necessity when discussing the new book entitled PunisherMAX. It’s a road that sure seems awfully familiar, but there’s a good reason for staying the course. This is the way the Punisher should be.
So one half of the E&D formula is still working this machine. The new guy is Jason Aaron, and to be completely subjective, I love Scalped and I wish that his Ghost Rider run could have lasted longer. Aaron is tapping into the same kind of writing that Ennis does, and who can blame him? He does it well.
The title of this book is Kingpin. I don’t think there has ever been a story that fleshed Wilson Fisk out so well. It turns out he had a pretty rough childhood and hated his dad. He hated his dad so much that he wound up killing him when he was still just a disturbed little kid. Fisk also didn’t just start out as the Kingpin, as it turns out. He was originally just a bodyguard for this other criminal named Rigoletto who winds up really getting on Fisk’s bad side…
I just have to interject with a moment straight out of Preacher: the use of over-the-top violence that becomes comical because you just can’t figure out how else to react to it. I guess that’s as comical as eyeballs popping out of one’s head can get. That’s what happens to some random guy when he gets on Rigoletto’s nerves and he sends Fisk on him. I’ll spare you the pictures from that scene.
Now I hope that nobody reading this book actually thought for even a second that the Mennonite (a “strong guy” character who looks like a farmer from two hundred years ago) would be a real threat to the Punisher. He’s okay in a sideshow freak kind of way, but did he really even have to be in this book? Oh well, just add him to the list of funny Punisher villains, a la the Russian and Jigsaw.
Like any good Punisher story, by the time Frank Castle is done wrecking shop he’s taken quite a beating. You know, this kind of thing also happens in every Wolverine story that comes down the pipeline, but at least that guy has the mutant healing factor thing going for him. In this story the Punisher gets hit a lot with a mallet by that weird Mennonite guy. It results in a direct hit to the chest, smashed fingers, and then a smashed hand, profuse amounts of blood (you get the picture). Now to Wolverine that would all amount to nothing, but Frank is an old buck who has to heal for awhile. Makes you wonder how he does it.
And can we talk about the end? I wouldn’t consider it to be mean saying that Bullseye shows up on the last page. The next volume should be fun…