Punisher: Soviet #3 Review

by Nick Devonald on January 02, 2020

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

I feel like Garth Ennis decided with this issue he wanted to remind us this was a MAX series and not just your typical Marvel comic. And if that was his intention then he succeeds admirably. Following on from last issues conclusion we get a chance to hear Stepanovich’s story. We go back to the eighties and the Soviet-Afghan war.

Frank Castle barely features in this issue, instead focusing on Stepanovich. This isn’t a bad thing at all though and Castle’s absence is barely noticed, instead the reader gets pulled in so deeply into Stepanovichs story that we don’t get a chance to miss him.

Garth Ennis relishes telling the brutality of war and has shown this again and again throughout his work. Not out of any kind of sick perversion but to bring home the reality of it, and the horrific things that men do to each other, how war isn’t heroics it’s brutal. He gets the opportunity to really do it here. This isn’t just men killing other men for some pointless war. No, this is brutal and horrific and sickening.  This is the kind of horror that breeds men like the Punisher. Or in this case Stepanovich.

The horrors that he goes through are designed to break a man. And most men it would. Stepanovich left the war shortly after that and gets a semblance of a normal life. It isn’t until the final few moments of the story he gets a focus, with a reveal that suddenly explains the reasons that he has launched this one man war against Porchenko.

The art is great throughout, as I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews Jacen Burrows and Guillermo Ortego make a great team. We start off in Afghanistan, and even if it’s not immediately clear where we are we know we’re in a foreign country. And the horrors are brought to life in gory detail, which really hammers home how savage war can be. Some of the images are truly sickening and that is exactly what they're meant to be. Part of me feels I shouldn't be praising them because it's a twisted person who would enjoy some of the art, but they do exactly what they're meant to. It brings it home in a way that hits hard.

Nolan Woodard’s colors really bring this to life as well. From Afghanistans yellow deserts, the oppressive forests, and then the blood. All the blood. The bright red really stands out on the pages and draws the eye in. This comic isn’t fun, it is at times appalling, cruel and disgusting. Yet we need that to understand what motives Stepanovich. And also to justify his one man vigilante war.

This issue is classic Garth Ennis and contains echoes of a lot of his previous work. It contains some strong images, is definitely not for the faint of heart, but is great none the less. It earns its explicit content warning on the front cover. It fills in the missing blanks and sets in motion events for the rest of the series. Castle and Stepanovich promise to be a great team up. Ennis fans will not be disappointed.

Our Score:


A Look Inside