Hidden Gems of Comics: Garth Ennis' The Punisher BORN

In this classic story Ennis suggests that Frank Castle's never-ending fight against criminals is because he is in love with war.

The Punisher has my favourite origin of any comic book character. I€™m not saying I delight at the fact that Frank Castle had to watch as his family was ripped apart in a hail of bullets but his origin is the most believable (yes, I know I€™m talking about a comic where a 50 year old man takes on the mob with more ordanance that the U.S. army, believable doesn€™t come into it) in that if my loved ones were killed, I wouldn€™t throw on a reallllly tight fitting costume and start beating up muggers. I would instead track down and kill those responsible, just like good ol€™ Frank. One thing that didn€™t gel with me though: why has hasn€™t The Punisher never stopped? Theres a dozen answers to this question, but the one I like the most was presented in €˜Born€™... Frank Castle is in love with war. Written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Darick Robertson, this 4 issue mini-series finds Frank on his third and final tour of the Vietnam War. The war is winding down, America will shortly be out of Vietnam, and Frank is second in command of Valley Forge, a fire base on the edge of Viet Cong territory. Told through the eyes of G.I. Stevie Goodwin, we see events that foreshadow Frank€™s war on crime, that will begin when his tour ends. Garth Ennis has a lot of history with the Punisher, having written the previous Marvel Knight€™s series, a comical take on the character. While that series was fun, pitting Frank against outrageous enemies like paraplegic mob bosses and cyborg crossdressers, this is a different series, a different Frank. Much darker in tone, it sees Ennis excel at the character. We really get an insight into Frank€™s mind. The war makes him feel whole, he feels he can€™t live without it. From tricking a commanding officer into walking into the line of fire of a sniper to make a mysterious deal with a, possibly, imaginary force, he will do anything to prolong the war. He€™s presented as an almost pathetic character, clinging desperately onto something everybody else knows will soon be gone. While also being a fantastic Punisher story, it is also quite a good war story. War is what Ennis writes best. Anybody who has read €˜War Stories€™ or the Vietnam issues of €˜Preacher€™ can attest to that. He gets the period and mindset of the soldiers. Something that is amazing since he is only 41 and has never seen combat. €˜Born€™ led into €˜Punisher Max€™ which Ennis knocked out of the park, crafting a multi arc epic which put Frank through the wringer and forced him to question everything he believed in. For fan€™s of The Punisher, I can€™t recommend €˜Born€™ enough. It€™s a fantastic read from it€™s brutal opening to it€™s haunting final page. Previously on Hidden Gems of Comics; Hidden Gems of Comics: Adam Warren€™s LIVEWIRESHidden Gems of Comics: Batman€™s ARKHAM ASYLUM LIVING HELLHidden Gems of Comics: Mark Millar€™s SPIDER-MANHidden Gems of Comics: Brian Azzarello€™s LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEELHidden Gems of Comics: Garth Ennis€™ HITMAN
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