Punisher (with blood!)

I know why you read superhero comics.  The violence, right?  I don’t blame you.  No one would read Spider-Man if he didn’t whack a bad guy once in a while.  But the quality of the bad guy getting smacked is just as important as the hero doing the smacking.  Unfortunately, that tends to be a problem with the Punisher.

Oh, his villains are horrible, terrible people who deserve everything they have coming to them.  But because of the Punisher’s methods (bullets), his villains tend not to last more than an issue or two. Well, I’d like to think I have the exception.  In 2004, the super genius Garth Ennis started writing Punisher Max, a comic aimed towards adults.  There’s lots of violence, bad words, nudity, and not single superhero or supervillain.  We see 60 year old Frank Castle gunning down the scummiest of mobsters, corrupt generals, slavers, and even white collar dudes.  And it’s one of the best series I’ve ever read.

Arguably in Ennis’ Punisher Max world, only one man has been tough enough to be called the Punisher’s nemesis.  Introducing Barracuda:

A giant mercenary, he fought Castle intermittently through two arcs and 300 pages.  I’m going to present all their fights, almost completely without context.  You want brutality in comics?  Your wish is granted.  Heads up, if drawings make you squeamish, you should probably go see a doctor.

Round One

So Barracuda clonks Castle on the head and stuffs him in a trunk, taking him to a rural shed to finish him off quietly.  Doesn’t go as planned.

The fight strolls along for a few more pages until they crash through the shack.

Oops, maybe Barracuda should have “axed” him for a break.  I’m sorry, that was disgusting.  Anyway, watch for the barbed wire strangulation coming up next.  Who says there’s no creativity left in comics?

The first fight goes to Barracuda.  The Punisher got a few good hits in though, right?  Castle escapes, but you can read that for yourself.  Oh, did you see that drug dealer hostage tied up in the background during the fight in the shed?  Want to know what happens to him?

That’s just the Punisher taking a “bite” out of crime.  I apologize, I won’t do this anymore.  With all loose ends tied up, let’s move on to the second fight.


Did you know the Punisher has friends?  Well, not really friends but people who owe him favors? Unfortunately, appearing in a Punisher Max issue cuts down life expectancy tremendously.

Could you hear that haunting prediction over how loud Barracuda’s shirt is?  Remember it for twenty pictures down the road.

Round Two

They begin their fight in another abandoned building, but this one is in the city.

Yes, Barracuda kidnapped a baby.  Not for some sick fetish stuff or anything, but because what better way to get under the Punisher’s skin than stealing an infant?  Speaking of getting under one’s skin:

One of the best reasons to read Punisher Max, besides the characterization and guns, is how wonderfully grim and noir the Punisher’s narration remains during the whole series.  I know it doesn’t make sense in my select panels, but I’m just trying for an unsubtle attempt to get you to read it.

And the second fight also goes to Barracuda.  Sorry.  They start anew an issue or two later.

Round Three

About time the Punisher used those guns of his.  They seem to be far more effective than getting within swatting range of his humongous opponent.

We get a quick, efficient fight where Castle stomps aggressively on Barracuda.  The Punisher’s not a nice guy.  Also this:

Look, amid bloody limbs, shark attacks, and savage beatings, I’m attempting to make this family friendly.  So I blurred out the bad word.  You can figure out what it’s supposed to be, you’re a smart fellow.  Also, please don’t let your family read Punisher Max.

But in good news, Castle finally gets a win!  Unfortunately, Barracuda is the only one who knows where the baby’s located, so that’s why he’s in an uncomfortable position.  Don’t worry, because the Punisher’s going to make the guy talk.  Except for one little problem.

Round Four

Dude’s a beast, you can’t argue with that.  We’ve experienced a bunch of hand-to-hand in the past few rounds, but now we totally get to watch a full-on firefight.  Not a bad way to change things up a bit.

Action movies always end with the hero walking away from the explosion while holding a young child. Game over.

Round Five

Guess not.

I’m not saying that the previous pictures have been G Rated, but for the next few, please cover up the eyes of all small children or pets currently sitting on your lap

Barracuda’s lucky that mercenary work pays well, because it’s going to take a small fortune in plastic surgery.   The Punisher bolts as Barracuda limps towards him. We’re inching towards our finale.

Can you feel the tension?  This is it, my friends!  Every single word bubble and nose crunching has led to this exact moment.  Who will prevail?  Will it spoil it for you that this is only the ninth of ten Punisher Max arcs written by Ennis?

A poor immigrant struggles for years to earn enough money for a rickety boat ride to America.  He has only a limited grasp of English and minimal skills, but he’s a hard worker who just wants to support his family.  Finally, after months of rejection and poverty, an administrator takes pity on him and hires him to be a janitor at the local elementary school.  The job can barely pay the bills.  Many nights his children don’t get enough to eat, but he’s just happy he can earn a living and his wife is proud of him. His Sunday comes to a close, and the janitor arrives at the school the next morning just as the sun rises to prepare for the upcoming week.  It won’t be hard, after all, how messy can a school possibly get over the weekend?

Time for a snow day.

But yay for the Punisher!  One more bad guy off the street and not a scratch on the infant.  If Castle had the ability to smile anymore, he’d be at least half scowl right now.  Have a good day.  Don’t commit felonies.

One Comment on “Punisher (with blood!)”

  1. jrw051000 says:

    I forgot just how many hits Barracuda takes… but exploding cars are clearly no match for him.

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