Current Reviews


Punisher War Journal #21

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Matt Fraction, Rick Remender
Howard Chaykin, Edgar Delgado & Jesus Aburto (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Punisher War Journal #21 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 2.

"Jigsaw: Part 4 of 6"

Maybe it's just me, but after what I thought was a fine opening chapter, I've completely lost interest in what's going on in this story. I suppose I could just be tired of this version of Frank; especially when the MAX Punisher series is so good, so consistently. This series doesn't seem to have much impact in comparison, which, I admit, is a totally unfair way to look at this title.

But there it is.

One of the main elements pushing me away from this story is, sadly, Chaykin's art. You don't know how it pains me to write those words. I usually LOVE his work, and War is Hell: First Flight of the Phantom Eagle is gorgeous every issue. Don't get me wrong; the backgrounds and set designs are still fantastic on this book, but there seems to be less care in the layouts, the figures are often awkwardly positioned, and the costume design for the Lady Ninjas is simply atrocious.

And seriously, I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to put two guys dressed in Punisher costumes in the same panel as two or three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but it's not. It's like everyone showed up at the dance wearing the same dress. And while I'm sure Elektra's skimpy costume is the inspiration for the Lady Ninjas' outfits (what there are of them), but there's got to be a limit. They just look ridiculous.

I can almost get behind the weird powers, being a huge fan of Big Trouble in Little China, but they're a little too strange to be accepted without any real introduction or set-up. For example, when one reveals psychic powers later in this issue, it is completely out of left field (unless my memory has just turned to crap - which is entirely possible, I admit). And are they all dead and reanimated? Again, Elektra serves as the model for this, I guess, but I needed more background before just running with this.

When did this become standard operating procedure? I know it happens, I just didn't realize it was a recruitment tool.

Also, according to the recap page, one of these Lady Ninjas is named Lady Gorgon and is the leader of The Hand. I had no idea. The overall orchestration of The Hand into this story is probably the weakest part overall, if we forget about the whole "Frank's gotten sloppy" scenario that allowed him to be found and tracked (costing the lives of many people) in the first place.

Anyway, like I said at the top, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just done with the MU Punisher as a character. Or maybe I'm just not digging the way the team of Fraction and Remender are gelling. I haven't really noticed any major difference in the voice of the character (although Frank is a bit on the sentimental side this issue) or in the pacing. It's just not working for me. I'm afraid this might be another title that gets sacrificed to keep putting gas in my car and to keep the air conditioner running in my home.

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