Punisher: Soviet #6 Review

by Nick Devonald on March 24, 2020

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

This issue concludes the Soviet storyline and it doesn’t disappoint. This has been one of the best Garth Ennis Punisher MAX stories, and that is high praise indeed. The parallels between Frank and Stepanovich have been one of the highlights of this story, and losing Stepanovich in the last issue is affecting Castle a lot deeper than even he might realise.

In the last issue Stepanovich hinted at a different fate for Porchenko than the usual Punisher methods. Without going into spoilers it’s particularly brutal and helps separate it from other Punisher tales which tend to end with the dispatch of whichever target he's pursuing. It's also brutal and gory enough to make it worthy of the MAX imprint.

This series has distinguished itself from other Punisher tales in a number of ways, and it’s nice to know that Ennis’ return isn’t just a one off, he’s doing a Punisher Vs Barracuda mini-series due out next month. The biggest difference with Punisher: Soviet has been giving Castle a partner. It managed to do a difficult task and that was to humanise the Punisher.

There were some worthy aditions to the cast in this series, beyond the obvious Stepanovich we also had Zinaida’s introduction. I’m holding out faith she’ll return in a later series, after all we never saw a body. She had a calculating intelligence which made her a worthy foe to Castle.

In typical Ennis’ fashion he manages to subvert our expectations for the finale. Beyond the fact that the punishment was one suggested by Prochenko, the setting and final confrontation were completely different. There’s no huge gun fights here.

One of the most enjoyable Punisher stories for quite some time. A fantastic conclusion to an excellent series. This is evidence, if any was needed, that the Punisher doesn’t belong in the normal Marvel universe we need him as part of the MAX imprint.

Jacen Burrows and Guillermo Ortego have done a fantastic job throughout on art, never shying away from the gorier details either, and this issue is no exception. Burrows does a great job capturing the characters expressions, the final panel with Porchenko, and Castle’s sadness over Stepanovich standing out amongst the crowd.

Then we have Nolan Woodards colours, he continues to use muted colours for the flashbacks to great effect. Then the scene near the conclusion of the episode uses bright red blood which contrasts nicely with the rest of the environment, which helps bring home the brutality of what’s going on.

A fantastic addition to the Punisher MAX series, Garth Ennis’ involvement always guaranteed it would be worth reading, but this is a real gem. A great conclusion to a fantastic series. It took a lot of Punisher tropes and turns them on their head. It’s also stand alone so a great introduction to the character for new readers. The art team have done a fantastic job here. Highly recommended.

Our Score:


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