This week, Punchy profiles PunisherMAX as a Comic You Should Be Reading!
Comics You Should Be Reading: PunisherMAX
Synopsis: It's the Punisher, so you know the basic drill, Vietnam Vet Frank Castle comes home, wrongs the Mafia, his family is killed in front of him, and so he begins an unceasing war on Crime as The Punisher. Writer Jason Aaron's take on the character is slightly different from Garth Ennis' previous run, as he brings in various Marvel Universe characters such as Kingpin and Bullseye as foes for Frank. But all with a MAX twist, and some very surprising twists. Artwork comes from the legendary Steve Dillon
Reason's why it's awesome: Firstly because the Punisher is awesome in general, but Aaron and Dillon's run stands out for several reasons. The way they've brought in Kingpin and Bullseye and made them fit into the bleak world of Punisher MAX has been wonderful. Aaron makes characters that, despite Frank Miller's best efforts are still a bit silly, and makes them more realistic. But that's not to say that this book is dull and gritty. This book can get fucked up, there are several moments that I don't want to spoil that are incredibly over the top and violent and gross, and just take what you thought the Punisher was to the next level. You'll never look at Wilson Fisk the same way after this series. PunisherMAX is also awesome for how it develops Frank Castle as a character. In other writer's takes (such as the current Greg Rucka book), Frank is less a character and more of a force of nature, he has nothing but his mission, but Aaron delves deeper into what drives Frank Castle, especially in the recently completed 3rd story arc 'Frank' which re-examines his origins, and shows that maybe you don't know the drill after all. Steve Dillon's art also contributes a lot to the success of this book, he's one of the best in the biz at drawing sickening blood and guts violence, but he also handles the comedic side of the book well. And nobody, not nobody could draw the blank hatred in Frank Castle's eyes as well as Dillon.
If you like...: Obviously this book is MAX, so it's mature readers only, and I think fans of other mature crime series will dig this. If you liked Ennis' run, then this is a fitting continuation. If you dig Jason Aaron's other crime book Scalped, this is worth a look. If you've only read Aaron's Marvel Universe work such as Wolverine, Ghost Rider and X-Men: Schism, then his usual strengths are here, just dialled to 11. The closest comparison outside of comics I can make is probably FX shows like The Shield and Sons Of Anarchy, crime stories, but not totally realistic crime stories like The Wire. Like these shows, PunisherMAX is not afraid to go a little over the top in it's violence. If you like your crime with a little less social conscience and a little more explosions and entrails, this is for you.
Best Pick-Up Point: Basically start of with #1, as Aaron's story is completely self-contained. You don't even need to worry if you don't know the Punisher's origins, as it's explained along the way. The first story arc 'Kingpin' is out now in hardback and paperback, and volume 2 'Bullseye' is out in hardback. Book 3, 'Frank' will be out soon. If you don't want to commit to a trade just yet, Jason Aaron also wrote a Punisher MAX Christmas one-shot a few years ago, that should give you a taste of his Punisher, it's got art by his Ghost Rider collaborator Roland Boschi, and is 'The Punisher X-Mas Special 2009'. It's a festive treat!
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt