Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2 – A Comic Review

The Punisher has always been one of my favorite comic book characters. He’s ruthless, he’s intelligent and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. He’s out to serve his own brand of justice. But it is undeniable, the Punisher is bad. He does things no comic book hero would do, he kills people on purpose. Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2 is truly no different.

In the story arc Hunter/Hunted, Matt Fraction (The Immortal Iron Fist: Vol. 2) brings the fabled vigilante back to the Marvel universe. The story is told mainly from Rhino’s point of view. After a bank robbery involving Rhino and a couple of street thugs ends up with a security guard getting accidentally killed, Punisher goes on the warpath. While Spider-Man and Punisher are trying to take Rhino down, Kraven the Hunter’s son enters the story. Interestingly enough, his name is Kraven the Hunter too.

The most interesting thing about this storyline is the fact that Kraven is going around collecting super-villains to put them into his own little zoo. That makes for an interesting idea, and the fact that much of the story unfolds from Rhino’s perspective as the victim of a dehumanizing process, this story should read fascinatingly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. While the story is unique and imaginative, the delivery leaves a lot to be desired.

Punisher kills off your average bottom-of-the-barrel super-villains, while the bigger names get away to fight other heroes; same story, different issue. Even though Fraction weaves some humor into the story, I wish there were more. It definitely would have made this story go down easier. By the time I finished the story arc, all I could think was, “You’re kidding me. That’s it? This is what all the fuss is about?” It’s too bad really. There could have been so much more done to this book.

I am actually left to wonder why this book received some great/good reviews. The only reason I can come up with is that you read so much mediocre stuff that imaginative mediocrity really seems spectacular. But it does help to raise the question of why do we feel okay with the punisher waxing super-villains, while we would look with disdain on any author that turned Spidey or Iron Man into ruthless killers. Perhaps we are comfortable with him doing the things he does because of who he does it to.

Think about it, if Batman were to kill Two-Face, there would be a definite loss felt in the comic world. If Lex Luthor were to be utterly destroyed by Superman, a gaping wound would be felt in the side of the DC universe. You could say this for The Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom, the X-Men and Magneto, even the Silver Surfer and Galactus. We’re talking about characters, villains, that we’ve grown up with, who have been made complex and real in ways that Kincknack, Night Thrasher and Reaper never were (yes, those are actually super villains).

Often times this translates into real life as well. We find that as long as the bad guys are the bad guys and they can stay relatively faceless and nameless (while we do not necessarily condone killing them) we are more comfortable with them gone than we would with someone we actually knew. Every human life is important and every person is mourned by someone else. Every life in some way is important, this is why the bigger issues of the world should be a concern for those of us who are not faced with adversity on a daily basis. While there are at times so many causes to support out there that it can make your head spin, it is important to at least concern yourself with the welfare of others and maybe try making your best attempt at lending a hand. You never know, the next one to be cared for may be you.

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