Garth Ennis returns to “The Punisher” with the six-part miniseries collected here in “Punisher: Soviet,” illustrated by Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego and Nolan Woodard.
When Frank Castle discovers a battalion of Russian monsters shot to death, he admires the craftsmanship of the killer. The Punisher couldn’t have done a better job himself. But if it wasn’t him, who was their executioner? Frank’s hunt for their killer leads him to a Russian named Valery Stepanovich, who served time in Afghanistan, and witnessed the brutal torture of his comrades at the hands of the Mujahideen. The nightmares that have plagued him ever since have twisted him into a killer with just one target in mind: the man in the Russian military who sold out Stepanovich and his unit, Konstantin Ponchenko, now kingpin of the Russian mafia. That’s a mission Frank is more than willing to support.
Garth Ennis has always used The Punisher as a tool to explore the darkest and nastiest elements of society: from street violence, terrorism, corporate greed and war, Ennis has exposed it all through the lens of Frank Castle. He understands: The Punisher is not a hero. He is vengeance personified, fixated on simple solutions — murder — in a complex world. And in “Punisher: Soviet” he delves into the broken psyche of a man scarred by war, with nothing left to lose. Ennis has done this all before, but honestly, I’ll return to it every time he does.
The artwork is fantastic. If anything, it’s too crisp and clean given the violence and bloodiness of the story. I’d love to see Burrows and Ortego on a classic superhero comic, with Woodward’s bold colours in support. I detected a touch of Tom Grummett the pencils — who is probably one of my all-time favourite Superman artists — and I’d love to see this art team’s take on the Man of Steel.