Punisher: Soviet #1

by Nick Devonald on November 13, 2019

Writer: Garth Ennis
Pencils: Jacen Burrows
Inks: Guillermo Ortego
Colours: Nolan Woodard
Letters: Rob Steen

I’m of the opinion that Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher Max was the best ongoing Punisher series there was, and it rates amongst Garth Ennis' best work too. So when I heard he was bringing out Punisher: Soviet I was incredibly excited. And part of Marvels MAX imprint to boot. My only concern was whether this would end up overhyped? Or can Garth Ennis bring back the magic again?

The answer is a resounding yes, the magic is back. Punisher: Soviet is classic Punisher action. Frank Castle at his most brutal.

The artwork reminds me a lot of the late and great Steve Dillon, Garth Ennis frequent collaborator, which is most definitely a compliment. The carnage Frank leaves in his wake is expertly drawn. Even when Frank is just sitting in a car talking with an associate the level of detail is fantastic. It helps add to the atmosphere and I will be looking out for the art team of Burrows, Ortego and Woodard in future. My only slight gripe is a few panels when the shadows around Franks eyes look like he’s wearing make-up, but otherwise the art, the colours, all fantastic.

The story is simple. Someone is going after the Russian Mob and wiping them out methodically. No civilian casualties. Franks M.O.. Only problem? It’s not Castle that’s doing the killing. Friend? Foe? Ally? Enemy? That’s still to be revealed, but it’s an interesting set up for the story.

Punisher stories aren’t about character development. They aren’t about team ups. They’re all about bad guys getting some justice handed to them. They’re violent. Violence as a means to an end with Frank Castle. He is cold, calculating and relentless. He’s someone you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. And that is exactly what we get here.

It’s totally accessible to new readers as well, going in all you need to know is Frank Castle is the Punisher and he kills bad guys. Nothing else. And for old fans this is Garth Ennis, Punisher, MAX imprint, what more do you need to know?

There is one page in particular that stands out to me, that sums up EXACTLY who Garth Ennis’ take on the Punisher is, with one of the criminals, horrified at Castles actions, tells Frank “You’re worse than us” to which he replies “That’s a matter of opinion.” In a nutshell that is what makes the Punisher great. His methods are very close, if not at times worse, than the people he goes after. The only thing that separates him is he only goes after the bad guys. He gets results, but the methods he uses are often very dark. He is most definitely no hero. Nor does he pretend to be. He has a job to do and is methodical when it comes to its approach.

Garth Ennis dark sense of humour is very present here. The Punisher symbol is used to great effect throughout.

This issue may have focused on setting up the story, but it was exactly what readers have come to expect from a Punisher story. With five issues left in the series I’m sure there’ll be plenty of twists and turns and I will be eagerly awaiting each new issue.

Punisher’s greatest storyteller is back, and it’s like he’s never been away. Frank Castle is as brutal, relentless, and methodical as ever. Sensational art throughout reminiscent of the late and great Steve Dillon is just one of many reasons to head out to your comic book shop and buy this now.

Our Score:


A Look Inside