Review: Punishermax #9

Published on July 30th, 2010

The current PunisherMax has been going for almost a year now, and I gotta say Jason Aaron has done a fantastic job of filling in Garth Ennis’ shoes. This is the Frank Castle we all know and love, a normal guy with guns who kills people that just need killing. And let’s not forget the art of Steve Dillon, one of the few people that can properly convey the anger of The Punisher.

punshermax9Issue Nine starts out with Wilson Fisk (the still wet behind the ears Kingpin of Crime) giving a very stern lecture to Bullseye over the phone about how displeased he is with Bullseye murdering four innocent families. Bullseye calmly explains that he had to have those families killed so that he could properly understand the loss of Frank Castle’s family. He was simply trying to put himself in The Punisher’s shoes so that he could properly kill the man he was hired to kill. Fisk then makes his first attempt in this issue to get rid of Bullseye by claiming that The Punisher is no longer an issue because he’s going to have to go into hiding after killing a dirty cop for information on The Kingpin, but their conversation is cut short when The Punisher shows up and starts killing Bullseye’s entourage. Bullseye takes cover behind bulletproof glass and finally gets to see how The Punisher works, and he finally has what he wants, a proper understanding of how Frank works. After a brief written conversation about The Punisher’s favorite color Bullseye escapes through the roof and heads back to The Kingpin’s home to speak with him.

The next scene is definitely the highlight of the book, it takes place outside of Fisk’s building where Mrs. Fisk is seen being evicted from the premises after attempting to kill her husband who she blames for the death of their son. She’s putting up a struggle when Bullseye shows up and decides to help everyone out by speaking to her. Bullseye starts off by telling her to just “Walk away and never look back,” he goes on to describe a couple of ways she could kill him in brutal detail, but essentially it will consume her entire being and every other part of her will become obsessed with death and murder. What’s great about this scene is it just shows how messed up Bullseye is, and despite how disturbing it should be you can’t help but get a couple of chuckles out of it.

Bullseye then meets with The Kingpin and provides him with a map that lists about thirty-seven of The Punisher’s safe-houses to give to the police in an effort to flush him out. So everything’s coming to a head at this point The Punisher has lost most of his resources, and now his supplier is saying that this one shipment of stuff he has is the last thing he can get for him because the Kingpin is killing anyone who is caught helping The Punisher. The issue ends with Bullseye giving the reader a menacing look while wearing one of The Punisher’s old bloody shirts proclaiming that he has nothing to hide and he’s ready.

Every once in a while I get tired of reading Punisher comics, there’s not a whole lot you can do with a character that kills everyone. Sure the excessive violence aimed at people who truly deserve it is what we love about the Punisher, but without recurring villains sometimes things can get a little stale. Then when I think I’m done somebody comes along and breathes some life into this character, and that’s what Jason Aaron has done for me. It seems really simple, take some characters that have been around forever (like The Kingpin or Bullseye) and reintroduce them in something that takes place outside the normal continuity, but what’s really great about doing this inPunisher Max is that it has brought some real depth into these characters. I loved Bullseye’s narration in this issue, it doesn’t just show that he’s goofy and crazy, it shows that he is off the wall obsessed and insane. Before this I thought of him as just a guy who was really good at killing people and enjoyed it, but while reading this issue it’s not that he likes to kill, he flat out needs to kill. Killing is the only thing that he can understand anymore. Reading Punisher Max has rejuvenated my love of this character and I can’t wait to see The Punisher and Bullseye meet without a sheet of bullet proof class between them.

Ken Zeider