Title: PunisherMAX #1 & #2
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Steve Dillion
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Price: $3.99 each
As I was sitting down to write this review I began pondering where to begin, what should be my opening line? I flipped quickly back through the pages of both Punisher comics, and sure enough it came to me. PunisherMAX, simply put is a rip roaring, bloody and brutal good time. Now, I know that there are many comics out there in the market place that tout excessive violence in them, but how can you truly have a great Punisher book without the fore mentioned excessive violence right?
The Plot: Issue #1
We find ourselves in the midst of a secret meeting of all the existing mafia bosses. They are getting together in order to discuss what must be done to get rid of that pesky Punisher, seeing as he has put each and every one of them on his personal hit list. The Punisher at this point posses a huge risk to them, not only in consideration of their lives, but also their business, and something must be done to stop him once and for all. Don Rigoletto has come up with an idea that he feels is the answer: reinvent the urban legend of one boss who rules all others. Don Rigoletto intends to make Frank Castle believe that there really is a Kingpin, in hopes that will distract the Punisher sending him on a wild goose chase. By doing this they can hope to keep Castle out of their hair, at least for a little while. While this meeting is going on the book opens with Frank pretty much torturing some low-level grunt into spilling what information he knows. The grunt tells Frank of the meeting and he is able to take out a couple more mid level goons. At this point the rest of the mafia heads feel that Don Rigoletto’s idea is worth pursuing. We see how Wilson Fisk who is posing as Don Rigoletto’s “right hand” man is being primed to slip into the role of the Kingpin.
The Plot: Issue #2
In issue number two of the first story arc entitled “The Kingpin” we begin to get a deeper look into the mangled and cruel mind of Wilson Fisk. We see just how he serves up a plate of revenge and we also find out more about how the myth of the Kingpin will begin to take shape. As reader’s this is where we watch Wilson Fisk’s rise to power. And in juxtaposition we also observe the path that Frank Castle is traveling on, and you can bet that while the paths may seem parallel at this time, they are surely bound to cross in issues to come. The one commonality that both these gentleman share is the trail of blood they are leaving behind them as they move forward in each of their respective goals.
I have really enjoyed the work that Jason Aaron has put out in the past. His writing on books like Scalped, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and Weapon-X has been outstanding. So, having Aaron on Punisher Max only seems fitting really. This book is full of grit, gratuity and fantastic storytelling. I have always liked the characters of both Wilson Fisk and Frank Castle. Aaron does not just rely solely on big acts of violence to sell his book, he has an actual point behind those moments and they help to propel the story forward, which is what is going to sell this series. Each panel gives you a clearer vision of the characters and who they are, and what drives them to do the despicable acts they do at times. In the past some writers have abused the privilege to write extreme acts of violence hiding under the Max title and use F-bombs willy-nilly. But Aaron does not; in fact his use of this no holds barred form of story telling is a perfect example of what the Max line should be written like. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a good mafia movie will be able to appreciate Aaron’s efforts on this title. This is not your typical Punisher comic though, because Aaron puts his main focus on telling the story from the perspective of Wilson Fisk, which I love! I really like comics that get into the minds and personalities of the villains. Heroes and villains are like Yin and Yang to one another and sometimes the reader is not given the villains side of the story, they are written with no sense of depth. I suppose you could say that this is a Kingpin origin story and Aaron writes Fisk in an almost likable manor. Issue #1 was a great set up issue, but #2 is more of a character piece that focuses on Fisk.
Aaron is finally giving the Punisher a formidable foe within his Punisher U. You can tell that this book is being written with affection for these characters and I really believe that when any writer feels passionate about the characters he’s writing you, the reader, are in for a great story. I feel that up until now Ennis’s Punisher as been deemed as the definitive Punisher, but Aaron is surely putting out a concerted effort to make this Punisher a series to be remembered. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this run with Aaron at the helm and Dillon on art. If you have not picked up these comics so far, I would run out and grab em’ for sure. This is the Punisher I’ve been waiting for since Ennis left the Max book and I can’t recommend it enough.