Punisher: War Zone #6 Review
Punisher: War Zone #6 review by Donna Jackson
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon
If you thought Punisher: War Zone was just Frank Castle blasting Skrulls and other oddities of the Marvel Universe, this miniseries will make you remember how great the Punisher is when he's completely detached from Marvel continuity, free to be as bloody as the twisted mind of Garth Ennis can make him. There are comic book writers and artists that will always be associated as a team, due to their amazing work on a specific character or run. Grant Morrison and Adam Kubert for All-Star Superman. Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver on Green Lantern. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale on just about anything . And of course, Punisher fans know that Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon wrote what many consider the best Punisher story to date in 2000 under the Marvel: Knights line, later collected in paperback as ‘Welcome Back Frank". This storyline later gave way to Garth Ennis' amazing run on Punisher: Max. Garth Ennis aged Frank Castle to almost a senior citizen, and took the character to new levels of violence and made Ennis and Castle synonymous with each other to comic book fans.
At the conclusion of ‘Welcome Back Frank", Frank Castle had burnt and blown away quadruple amputee and leader of the Gnucci crime family Ma Gnucci, as well as gotten rid of any wanna-be vigilantes trying to do what the Punisher does. One of those victim's son has taken up the identity of his father and now goes as the white-masked murderer Elite. This final issue of the aptly named mini-series "The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci" finds the Punisher cornered in the house of his snitch, Charlie Schitti, who's not much help anymore after taking a dart filled with sedative to the head. While Charlie hides in the basement trying to fornicate with a pumpkin, Frank and a gun-toting female officer named Molly are left to shoot it out with Ma Gnucci's boys, with Ma and Elite waiting not so safely to move in for the final kill. A simple story to be sure, even by the subject's standards, but if you're looking for a deep, compelling hero that will make you truly think about his position in comic book literature, you have no business picking up this book. It's made strictly for fans of the aforementioned ‘Welcome Back Frank', reinforced by the presence of Dillon on pencils. Granted, better artists have worked on the Punisher in Ennis' run, but Dillon's distinct style has always worked best with Castle. The conclusion to this book will be a surprise to anyone who hasn't followed the storyline, and even so, you can probably guess how Ma Gnucci keeps coming back. There's not many different ways to create people in her condition.
When Ennis announced he'd be leaving the Punisher Max book, I knew it wasn't the last time he'd be in charge of Frank Castle, but what an unexpected treat it was to see Steve Dillon come back as well, and take one last shot at the wonderful characters they reinvented together, and some new ones too. Though I would much rather prefer to have Ennis back on Punisher Max, this miniseries is a good reminder that the artist/writer duo that brought back Frank to a new generation of comic book fans can still do awesome, mindless work.