Like so many readers and writers of this beloved mag, you’re probably a bleeding heart liberal. You’re against whale hunting and capital punishment. That’s okay, this reviewer is too. Kinda. On a good day. Well, killing is wrong. Even killing killers (even killing killer whales!). But since we’re all a single chromosome away from being chest-pounding apes, it can be frustrating to remain that civilized in this twisted world of molesters and meanies. Thank Christ then, for Frank Castle, the Punisher. The comic book that actually quenches your natural bloodthirst.
The Punisher originally appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (didn’t even have to Google that!) and quickly rose in popularity. Most likely because he didn’t capture criminals, he slaughtered them. A Batman without the bullshit.* Through the years, he’s had a fruitful career within the Marvel universe.
Later on, editors realised that the mainstream Marvel universe was too spandexy for all of the Castle’s bloodletting. There are kids reading these things for Kirby’s sake! Thus, the MAX imprint was born. A department within Marvel headquarters, where writers have the freedom to remove classic heroes from their natural surroundings and write edgy stories about them. “Edgy” meaning you can swear and show tits. And thankfully, way more gore.
The first ten volumes (simply called The Punisher MAX) were written by Garth Ennis and remain one of his best works to date. So filling his shoes would be a challenge. It doesn’t seem like it, though, for former true-crime novelist Duane Swierczynski. He manages to actually make you giggle with glee as Castle crushes a rapist’s skull. In his second volume: Six hours to kill, we follow our anti-hero as he is poisoned and has six hours to live. Which means of course six hours to massacre every square metre of earth-scum he manages to find. Fun!
Oh, and he accidentally kills a whale in this book, too. Accidentally!
* That’s not a Batman diss. The sentence just sounded cool.