Posts Tagged ‘punisher comics review’

Review: Punisher “Girls In White Dresses” (61-65)

December 30, 2008

Title: The Punisher (MAX)

Issues: #61-65, “Girls In White Dresses”

Writer/Artist: Gregg Hurwitz / Laurence Campbell

Grade: B-

Not to hijack this review, but one thing that I can’t shut up about is the work that Garth Ennis did on his eight year run writing Frank Castle (The Punisher). 

The Garth Ennis Punisher work is in my Top Ten favorite comic book work of all time (up there with Bratpack,Claremont/Byrne X-Men, etc.).

What Garth Ennis did with Frank Castle is equivalent to the work that Frank Miller did during his 80’s run to shape Daredevil.  I say that, because when you think about the post-Miller Daredevil runs by Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker, they are partially successful because they leveraged the strong base that Miller established for Daredevil.

And the same can be said for Frank Castle.  The character was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (the sad thing is that I didn’t even need to look that up) and while Steven Grant and Mike Baron contributed to his development, it’s really in the Garth Ennis “Born” mini-series and the later issues of the MAX title that the Punisher became something different.

But of course, this is mainstream super hero comics, where writers take what they like and ignore what they don’t.  That is both the blessing, and curse of the medium.  So, when Gregg Hurwitz took over the book, I was interested in seeing how he was going to write Frank Castle?

Well, he did right by the Ennis foundation and he’s writing Frank Castle as the driven crusader that Garth redefined.  Hurwitz manages to keep the tone of the character while the book itself reads like it’s from a different writer; which is a good thing.  I don’t want Garth Ennis-lite.  I want Gregg Hurwitz, and he delivers the goods by taking the character out of the war path that Garth Ennis had him on, and inserting him into a “man with no name” Western style tale that is just the right change of pace to differentiate the book for longtime readers such as myself.

Hurwitz points out that Frank Castle is not a mercenary / “gun for hire” and yet makes him into exactly that for this story-arc, and the only reason that it works is because he’s using the familiar story structure of the classic Western.

The art is done in a photo realistic style and Hurwitz and Campbell take advantage of the medium by doing things like inserting images in the backgrounds and in mirror reflections that enhance the tone of each panel.  For me though, with most photo realistic artwork, I personally find it to sometimes be extremely muddy.  There is a fine line between Chiaroscuro and too much ink on the page.

My biggest fault with the book is that one of the mysteries in the story revolved around a villain named “The Heavy” and Hurwitz kind of makes a bit too much over the reveal of who the villain is.  The problem here is is that new Punisher readers will almost immediately figure out who the villian is and longtime Punisher readers know that Frank Castle doesn’t have a large enough rouges gallery for it to be anyone but who it is.  So, why the mystery?  For me, it just fell flat.

So.  Will I pick up the next story-arc?  Yes.  The MAX title remains on my list.  Has Hurwitz successfully picked up the mantle of the Punisher that Ennis refined?  Yes.  I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for Punisher fans, and if you dropped the Punisher after Ennis left, pick this up.  It’s a solid read.

Grade: B-

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