Punisher: Soviet #4

by Nick Devonald on February 26, 2020

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

Out of the whole series this issue feels the most like classic Garth Ennis Punisher. I really enjoyed the first three issues but they’ve really only served to set the story up, in a fantastic and really enjoyable way I must add, and now we’re onto the meat of the story. We know who Stepanovich is, why he’s after Pronchenko, and why Frank would team up with him.

It’s nice to see Frank working with someone else, who in many ways mirrors himself, as an equal. It doesn’t happen often enough and it puts a bit of a spin on his usual tactics. The decision is made to get to Pronchenko by going after his wife which is what this issue focuses on. It doesn’t take long to realise she isn’t just a typical trophy wife. She’s one of the more interesting characters I’ve read in an Ennis’ Punisher story and it was focusing on her which made this issue really interesting.

Ennis shows his true skill as a writer with this issue since, with a lesser writer, this story could end up feeling a bit by the numbers. When you strip away what makes a Punisher story back to its basics the story is very similar. Castle sets his sights on a bad guy. Finds a weak spot in their defences. Goes after them. Kills them. At no point does it feel like that’s the case here. Ennis manages to keep things feeling new and interesting. With the inclusion of Stepanovich, and then Pronchenko’s wife, Zinaida Sebrovna, it makes for some compulsive reading.

I hope Stepanovich sticks around after this story arc concludes. It’s brilliant having someone for Castle to bounce idea’s off, who views the world in the same way as he does, and shows a side to Castle I didn’t realise we were missing. In a previous issue we saw the pair of them eating Chinese takeaway. Here we see Frank drinking a hot drink as they muse over their latest problem. It humanises Castle in a way we rarely see.

Jacen Burrows Pencils and Guillermo Ortego’s inks are excellent. Amongst the best I’ve seen in a Punisher storyline. They manage to capture the explosions and gun fights just as well as the quieter moments when the characters are interogatting their prisoner or discussing their next move.

Nolan Woodard gets a chance to really shine with his colours in this issue as well. The colourist often gets overlooked but here he demonstrates how important their role is to the storytelling. A couple of flashbacks are coloured with a more muted purple shade. The log cabin where most of this issue is set is suitably shadowy which helps set the scene and add atmosphere to the scene. Then we have the explosions and gun fights which go hand in hand with a Punisher story, and Woodards colours make the most of these amongst the nighttime setting.

One of Garth Ennis’ best runs on Punisher, ‘nuff said. By making Castle part of a duo rather than a singular driving force, having interesting antagonists, help to elevate this above Ennis’ other incredible works on the Punisher. This series is a must have. Best part is the Soviet storyline is very standalone from all the other works on the Punisher. The art is great throughout and the entire art team of Burrows, Ortego and Woodard deserve recognition for the great work they do here.

Our Score:


A Look Inside