Punisher #11 - 'Frankencastle' - Remender, Moore and Brown
Story - Ever since Garth Ennis revitalised and reinvented The Punisher as an adults-only crime comic, it's been a challenge for other writers to make the character fit into the Marvel Universe, he just seems too serious, too deadly to go up against guys in Spandex. Rick Remender has made a game go at putting Frank in situations that Ennis would never do, taking on Norman Osborn, fighting The Sentry, The Hood, having his family resurrected and then Frank kill them, and then finally, having Daken decapitate him.
Yeah, that's right, decapitate, Frank Castle is now dead, he's joined the choir invisible, he has ceased to be, he is an ex-Punisher. But of course, it's not the end. We pick up almost immediately after The List special, as HAMMER agents hunt down his dismembered body bits, but then... Man-Thing shows up. And it just gets crazier from there. Frank is taken by Man-Thing to the Legion Of Monsters, including such Marvel mainstays as Morbius The Living Vampire, Werewolf-By-Night, Moleman's Moloids and the Living Mummy. Seeing these characters in Punisher... it's not something you'd expect. And then seeing Frank patched together as a Frankenstein is even weirder. I think you can safely say this isn't retreading an old story, Remender is truly breaking new ground now.
But this isn't just for laughs, the Legion Of Monsters have a reason for getting Frank back, they are being hunted by a group of gloriously over the top Japanese Monster-Hunters who spout glorious non-sequiturs about killing all monsters. They have been hunted down, and they need a military strategist like Frank to lead them and help them. It's an interesting new villain for Frank to face, and it's actually a pretty solid explanation for why all this madness is happening. I do worry a bit that Remender has dropped all of his continuing subplots such as The Hood's machinations or Frank's new 'Microchip' Henry, for this new direction, but Henry does make an appearance here, and I hope Remender manages weave the new world of Frank with the old one.
So Punisher purists may balk at such a different type of story, it's reminiscent of the Angel Punisher or other such bollocks, but I say that this is different, and it's being done with it's tongue firmly in cheek. I would say that as long as there is a quality MAX book like Jason Aaron's which launched last week, the 616 Punisher should be allowed to go as crazy as it likes, otherwise what we'd get is sub-MAX stories without any of the violence or language, PG-13 Punisher has to go for broke, and this is it, it's a great ride, and for once, the Punisher in the Marvel Universe is totally unpredictable. All it took was his death to make things interesting.
Art - I think Tony Moore is part of what makes this concept work, his art really pops here, and it sells the madness and insanity, as well as the personal moments. Seeing an artist like Moore draw the Man-Thing is awe-inspiring, as is seeing his take on the various Kirby Monsters that are dotted around. Moore knows horror comics, as we've seen on the first arc of Walking Dead or his recent 3-issues of Ghost Rider, and there are some scenes here, such as when a HAMMER agent knows fear and burns at the touch of the Man-Thing. Moore even manages to make Frankencastle look not totally ridiculous. This book is a lot of fun, but it wouldn't be half as much fun without Tony Moore.
Best Line - 'Slay all Monsters. Make the Earth clean. Complete our reputations' I love Engrish.