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Punisher War Zone #5 (of 6)

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009
By: Matthew J. Brady

Garth Ennis
Steve Dillon
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Punisher War Zone #5 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 14.

"The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci, Part Five"

Action is the name of the game in this installment of Garth Ennis' latest Punisher story. When last we left our (anti-)hero, he was trapped in a car and under heavy fire from the vigilante Elite and his men. It leads to an exciting scene in which Frank barely manages to survive simply because his opponents are stupid. There's one especially gory death, along with explosions and many, many spent bullets. Exciting stuff.

Then it's off to Frank's latest sidekick Schitti's house for shelter and medical attention, but little do they know that it's currently occupied by a hit squad of mobsters, along with Lieutenant Von Richtofen, who is hiding in the bathtub. If Frank can get through them, it's only so long before the rest of the mob (being spurred on by Elite and his army of fake Ma Gnuccis, who are swearing hellfire and damnation on anybody who doesn't help capture the Punisher) shows up to the party. Will he be able to work with Von Richtofen to hold them off?

This is all leading up to what will surely be an explosive finale, and hopefully a final showdown with (and humiliating defeat for) Elite. He's out of his depth in trying to tangle with Frank, but he has enough in the way of planning and resources that he has a chance to do some actual damage.

Ennis has definitely been delivering the thrills here, delivering a follow-up to his "Welcome Back, Frank" story that works much better than the original follow-up ongoing series, if only because of the time passed and the shortened length. It's been a tight series, pulling in several plot threads that all connect well and make for a good story, full of the violence and gross-out humor that Ennis does so well. It seems like he could write this sort of thing in his sleep at this point. And Steve Dillon works with him so well, giving the characters expressive facial expressions and choreographing the action in a clear, consistent manner. He even makes Elite really expressive even though he wears a mask that makes his eyes the only visible part of his face.

So, we've got one issue to go, and hopefully it will all click into place, like a well-designed watch. I have every faith in Ennis that he can pull it off, and that issue should be a really fun read. This isn't great literature or anything, even by Ennis' standards, but they're some of the most enjoyable and well-done mainstream comics currently being produced. Let's hope the final issue doesn't do anything to harm that impression.







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