Sunday, October 21, 2012

Punisher MAX: Frank TPB

It’s going to be tough for other trades to measure up; I’ve been reading some great stuff recently. Jason Aaron keeps the ball rolling with the next chapter of Punisher MAX. I think it is fairly safe to say this is a continuation of Garth Ennis’ magnificent run with the character. The problem is, I don’t see a way for this to end well for Frank. We knew the Punisher lost his happy ending a long time ago, but things are particularly bleak in this collection.

After his climactic battle with Bullseye, the Punisher is broken. He’s been arrested and is now in jail recovering from his wounds. But the inmates want their piece, and it doesn’t take long for them to start making a move on ol’ Frank Castle.

But of course, that’s the easy part. Aaron has a much more challenging narrative in the comparison of Frank’s new prison life and his return from Viet Nam. Both worlds are prisons, of course, one is just a bit more literal. The moments are captured perfectly. If Hollywood wants to try another Punisher movie, I recommend this story right here.

I believe Aaron is adding to the Punisher mythos with these details about Frank’s failed attempt to re-integrate after the war. Its painful watching Castle as a dead man trying to connect with his wife and children. The only emotion he’s got is anger when he finally gets to kill some people. The Punisher is a great revenge fantasy, but Aaron shows how deep the character can be.

Steve Dillon outdoes himself with the time-jumping contrast between the eras of Frank Castle’s life. It’s heavy-handed, but totally effective to see old Frank put in solitary while young Frank walks into his perfect suburban home. Gah, does it make me a sucker that a scene like that just breaks me up.

So sad. Frank never had a chance.


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