Punisher Soviet #2 Review

by Nick Devonald on December 11, 2019

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

The conclusion to the last issue left Frank face to face with another vigilante who people have been mistaking for the Punisher. (Very minor spoiler for the first panel ahead, but without it this review would be incredibly awkward to do) He introduces himself as Valery Stepanovich.

Castle and Stepanovich find themselves thrust into temporarily working together until they figure out where they stand. They learn a little about each other as they battle against mercenaries brought in to take the Punisher down. Garth Ennis has done a lot of Punisher stories, and it’s nice to see he’s still finding new and interesting ways to tell stories about Frank Castle that feel fresh and not just treading old ground.

Stepanovich is similar to Castle in a number of ways. Similar training and skills, similar backgrounds, in a number of ways he could be Castle. Some tragedy has befallen him which has left him going after Pronchenko in a Punisher fashion. But, and this is what works well with this comic, he’s not very Punisher like in personality. Sure, he was that same methodical method for going after the bad guys, very focused on his goal etc. But he’s got a sense of humour. He jokes. He drinks. This is someone if you met you wouldn’t know was a damaged, stone cold killer like Frank is.

He also has a very specific target in mind in Porchenko and isn’t just after every bad guy for the sake of it.

I think a great way to look at a character is by holding up a mirror image of them and this is what we’re getting here. Same backgrounds and skillsets, same approaches, but very different men. I think as the series progresses and we learn more and Stepanovich we’ll also get a chance to learn more about Frank as well.

And because most Punisher stories see Castle alone, or where he’s working with someone they are very rarely on his level, it’s nice to see them sharing a Chinese and chatting at the docks. It’s a side of Castle we rarely see.

Beyond all of this however we’ve got standard Punisher action, lots of bad guys getting shot up, only this time Frank has a friend to help him. It takes the standard Punisher formula and shakes it up a bit.

I mentioned in the last review I really like the art, it reminded me a lot of the late and great Steve Dillon, who did some great work with Garth Ennis in the past. I still think this is true and that’s a good thing in my mind, but I’m also noticing more and more differences and really enjoying the art. Nolan Woodard really gets the opportunity to show off his coloring skills here as well, we have darkly lit night time scenes, then towards the end brightly lit scenes based in Afghanistan which contrast nicely with the other colors.

It’s Garth Ennis writing Punisher Max and really that’s all you need to know. It’s great, as good as anything he’s done in the past, and the juxtaposition between Castle and Stepanovich promises to make fun reading as well as an interesting look into Franks personality.

Our Score:


A Look Inside