Comic: "The Punisher: The End"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Garth Ennis
Artist: Richard Corben
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Plot: The world is in the midst of a nuclear holocaust, but that’s not going to stop Frank Castle from punishing one last group of criminals.
Review: Garth Ennis has done some great Punisher stories in the past. This, unfortunately, is not one of them.
It starts off in the year of “soon”. It doesn’t seem to be that “soon” because the Punisher is shown to be a grey-haired old man. For some reason that is never fully explained beyond “they pushed the planet’s luck too far”, the world is pretty much nuked into the Stone Age. Luckily, Frank Castle was able to get into the fallout shelter in Sing-Sing before the bombs hit. Therein, he hears word of some truly diabolical types hiding out in another fallout shelter in New York. And so, once the radiation levels have fallen enough for him to survive the trip, he leaves.
I wish I could say there was more to the story, but that’s pretty much it. As the Punisher makes his way from Sing-Sing to the hidden bunker, he describes the carnage from the nukes in his usual sunshiny manner. Eventually, he gets where he’s going, and he wastes everyone.
Now, I understand that the Punisher killing everybody is pretty much a given in every Punisher storyline, but there’s usually a little variation put into the journey. In this case, the devastation from the nukes is almost 100%, so the Punisher manages to get to his destination with no real difficulty. No survivors hounded by marauders, no makeshift cities rising from ashes, nothing. Hell, not even any other people, aside from his targets and some conman who decided to tag along.
The violence itself is surprisingly tame for a story carrying the MAX label. In fact, there’s hardly any blood at all, unless you count the blood oozing from the Punisher’s irradiated face towards the end of the comic. In a way, though, I think it’s just meant to be a continuation of the fairly boring story.
There is some toward the end, but it looks just as crummy as the rest of the art in the book. Richard Corben’s characters all seem to have oddly cartoonish proportions and facial features. Whenever you’re treated to a full body shot, the characters tend to look like midgets. The Punisher will be trying to say something serious, but all you can focus on is a bunch of dwarves looking on in horror.
Finally, this post-apocalyptic Punisher seems to be even less tolerant of crime than the regular, modern day Punisher. Without giving away too much, he claims that the people he’s after are responsible for the end of the world, through means that are only hinted at with dour metaphors. It all seemed a bit more abstract than his usually “you’re in the mafia, you die” sort of thinking seen in Ennis’ other works.
I was very disappointed with the whole book. I was expecting a lot from a story that was claiming to be the last battle in the Punisher’s war on crime, but The End turned out to be remarkably bland. I suppose you could chalk it up to being a more realistic take on the aftermath of a nuclear war (i.e., no super mutants or giant cockroaches), but even so, I’m reading these comics to be entertained. If I wanted to know what it was like to walk through a barren, empty landscape, I’d move back to Illinois.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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