Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Punisher: Born

Huh, and to think that I always thought Frank Castle went on his crazy revenge-fest because some mafia members killed his family. I suppose that is part of the reason, but in Born Garth Ennis explores Frank's days in Vietnam and the dirty pact he agrees to with some enigmatic dark being.

This 4 issue mini starts off by letting you get to know Frank and the men he commands. Most of the people at the base he is in charge of are complete goof-ups that really don't give a crap about the war. Frank, on the other hand, takes it very seriously and has managed to find a group of fellow soldiers in the midst of the glut of cowardly and lazy residents of his base. This group scours the area looking for Charlie and wiping them out if they're found. Frank's little band of marauders, in making as many runs into the jungle as they have, have never actually had a fatality. Frank makes sure of that.

From all of this, you'd think that Frank is simply a very good soldier. Well, that he is, but he also feeds off of war. When a general comes to the base to inspect it and tell Frank that they're heading home he is conveniently led up the slope of a sniper firing range and, uhh, "taken care of". On another mission you see Frank kill yet another fellow soldier. This time he does it because the soldier raped a Vietnamese woman. He justifies to himself that the killing was done to serve justice. At this moment you can start to see the seeds of the Punisher at work inside of Frank.

Before this series is over, Frank blossoms into the killing machine that we all know and love, but only by agreeing to be the tool of some ethereal being that only asks for one small thing in return. Frank doesn't know exactly what that one small thing is until he arrives home from the war--his family.

Ennis does a great job of not retooling the Punisher's origin, yet also putting a new spin on how he came to be. In doing so, he also gives the Punisher's origin a somewhat mystical beginning as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this version as opposed to the standard version where he is motivated purely by revenge.

Art: 3.5
Story: 4.25
Overall: 4

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