Friday, August 26, 2011
Forgotten Books: The Punisher in "Welcome Back Frank"
OK, this one's only a comic book, but still (and this is the straight skinny from me to you,)…
it kicks ass.
The book is The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank (Marvel Comics, 2008), the graphic novel edition of a 12-part mini-series that originally appeared in 2000-01. The writer is Garth Ennis (that’s the important part) and the artists are a couple of other guys.
The Punisher is Marvel’s long-running rip-off of the even longer-running paperback hero The Executioner. You know, a one-man-war against the mob. The Punisher has accumulated a lot of comic book baggage over the years, but this mini-series pressed the reset button and put him back on track.
Make no mistake: This book is about killing. Bloody, brutal killing. The body count here is around 100, with our hero accounting for about 70, 30 by other hands, one suicide and one murdered dog (never fear, the dog killer is one of The Punisher's 70). But the tale is told with such finesse that it leaves you gasping for more. Sonehow, Garth Ennis weaves in a healthy dose of humor, a little heart, even a touch of pathos.
The overall effect is Jeez, I can’t believe this is happening in a comic! That lady above, for example, is Ma Gnucci, New York crime boss and the focus of The Punisher’s latest vendetta. After he kills her brother and two sons, she’s pissed enough to lead her street soldiers after him personally. They corner him in a zoo, but he turns the tables and lures them into the polar bear habitat, and Ma emerges with a few pieces missing. Later, when he tosses a firebomb into her house, she flops out the window onto the street and bites him on the ankle, so he boots her back into the burning building. I’d like to see Spider-Man or Superman do that!
Tune into pattinase for more (and on average less gruesome) Forgotten Books.