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Punisher War Zone #3 (of 6)

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008
By: Matthew J. Brady

Garth Ennis
Steve Dillon
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Punisher War Zone #3 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 24.

"The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci, Part Three"

Well, if this isn't Christmasey, I don't know what is. Wait, yes I do. But for those of us who like some of the old ultraviolence with our hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts, Garth Ennis delivers. This issue marks the halfway point of this weekly mini-series, and it's mostly one extended action sequence, with some side trips for character advancement and tying the plot together. Ennis can put together some highly entertaining stories, and he's doing just that here, weaving plot threads together while still leaving just enough untold to keep the interest piqued. Just wait until you see the final page. Who knows what is going on there.

And I shouldn't have worried about whether the subplots involving Elite, the son of a Punisher copycat that Frank Castle killed, were going anywhere. Ennis shows that he knows exactly what he's doing, and still putting an interesting spin on things. For instance, Elite is a mostly inexperienced kid, so you would think he wouldn't last long against the Punisher. But he has enough resources and tenacity to cause some trouble, and while he will surely end up receiving some violent comeuppance, he's already proving to be more of a threat than expected. But at the same time, his inexperience shines through, especially in his reaction to being wounded. Ennis has taken what could be a one-note character and fleshed him out, while still keeping him masked and mysterious.

And the action is another area where Ennis excels. He can put together a well-laid-out scene that makes sense geographically and tactically, in which the Punisher can believably (for the most part, the character has to go at least a little over the top, right?) take on a large group of armed men and prevail. It's interestingly done, and there is just the right amount of tension as to whether he is going to pull it off. Steve Dillon's artwork is essential here, and since he and Ennis work together so well, it comes off wonderfully.

So put your fears to rest: Ennis would have to come up with something ridiculous to screw up what he has going here. On the other hand, that last-page reveal is pretty crazy, so maybe he's trying to push the boundaries of what is expected and what readers will accept with the Punisher. We'll have to see, but I expect it will be some really good reading.







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