Comic: "Punisher MAX: Born"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Garth Ennis
Artist: Darick Robertson
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Plot: Capt. Frank Castle has been stationed in a quiet firebase in the heart of Vietnam. The base is facing an impending attack from the Viet Cong, but no one seems concerned about the lax security, rampant drug use, and overall ennui permeating the camp. Will everything be ok?
Review: I had always imagined the character of The Punisher as having been a product of Castle's family being killed by the mob, but writer Garth Ennis paints a different picture in "Borne". Therein, you see that Frank has always been the same cold, calculating guy even as he was a soldier among "friends". On the one hand, I see the point in showing that Castle's mind for strategy and efficiency wasn't something that emerged as a result of becoming The Punisher. At the same time, seeing how brutal and ruthless he could be makes you wonder how the guy could have even gotten himself a family in the first place. I guess what I'm saying is that you can have the guy learning how to be a good soldier in the military, but that doesn't mean you have to make him look like a sociopath (at least not until he puts on that skull t-shirt of his).
Another thing that bugged me was the art for the book. Darick Robertson does some decent work on the whole with the story, but there were a few times when a panel would look just a bit more cartoonish than you would expect from such a serious story. The one instance that sticks out most in my mind is a panel where Castle is shouting to his troops, and it looks like some replaced his lower jaw with one belonging to a crocodile. It was supposed to be a very tense moment, but I just found myself chuckling at the sight. Also, there was another panel where, with his slicked back hair and a brooding look on his face, Frank Castle looked a lot like Christopher Walken. Nothing against Walken, but it was still a strange moment, seeing that on the page.
The thing that bothered me the most about Born was the book's big reveal. The previews talk about a "grim decision" that Castle has to make in order to survive, and though it won't be that unexpected if you read the book from the beginning, it will still come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Punisher. For me, it was a surprise and a disappointment. I can't really describe it without giving away the big finale, but suffice to say, it casts the rest of The Punisher's adventures in a different light. One that kind of cheapens the character.
Other than, you know, cheapening the character with the ending, the book isn't that bad. It's definitely not my favorite Punisher story, but you could do worse.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
Wow... I thought Garth's intentions were to steer Castle away from stuff like that short-lived "Holy-Assassin Punisher" period in the mid-late 90's. o.o
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