Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Punisher MAX (Volume 1), Garth Ennis

For a long time, Punisher fandom was in my mind, part of a horrifying Venn Diagram that interesected with sets for Evil Ernie and Lobo. Consequently, I avoided the franchise. Until a friend, who is maybe now my best friend, demanded I take home his X-Box and Punisher game. It's an amazing game, so amazing that I eagerly tucked into its source material.

Ennis tears into the meat of what it means to be the Punisher, an antihero it is remarkably easy to feel for. After all, his one-man war on crime was only declared after his entire family was killed by the mob. But Ennis persists in keeping the body count high, and asks if Frank Castle is still doing the wrong thing for right reasons. It's not about whether or not the Punisher is a bad person, it's about whether or not the Punisher is even human anymore. Is he exploiting the death of his family in the service of his own psychological shortcomings? Has he always been? What means this mayhem when it broken his humanity?

The point is made that crime never ends, that "it claims its victims, accidental or intended. And as long as people want the things the law forbids them having, nothing you or I or anyone can do will make a difference." Microchip argues that Frank knows this but does what he does anyway. This book basically belongs to the exchanges they have about choice, conscience and control.

It's heavy, thinking reading with flashes of Ennis' dark humor. His run continues on for several trades, all of which I recommend reading. It's a bloody, fantastic arc.

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