Monday, 5 May 2014

Space: Punisher Review (Frank Tieri, Mark Texeira)

Space: Punisher. 

The title itself is curious - is the series, “Space” and this is the just the volume featuring the Punisher? Nope! But still, it’s “Space: Punisher”, rather than “Space Punisher” which makes more sense because it’s the Punisher… in spaaaaaaaaaaace! Which, in itself, is so brilliant I can’t believe no-one has done it before. But this is why Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira’s book is so good - Tieri had the genius and foresight to realise what no-one had done before, and then just did it! 

And it gets better. Space Punisher is after the Space Mafia (of course!) who killed his family and has finally tracked them down after eight long years. After torturing a very Savage-Dragon-looking Barracuda, Frank - accompanied by his robot companion Chip and talking ship Maria - turns his sights onto the heads of the intergalactic goon squad: Dr Ock, Green Goblin, Magneto, Red Skull, and Ultron. Mayhem ensues as Frank kills his way to the top of the evil empire, ending in a showdown with a Mortal Kombat-Goro-esque Hulk and the Watchers. 

Ok, a few things: obviously this has nothing to do with Marvel continuity. This is a “what if?” adventure where all the Marvel characters are in space and the story is a kind of Star Wars/Flash Gordon mash-up with amazing comedy thrown in. That’s right: comedy. This is a comedic space opera Punisher story, and it works SO well you’d think this was the genre the Punisher was created for! 

This book had me legit in stitches so many times - the comedy timing is so perfect. My favourite scene is on Skullworld (the Red Skull’s homeworld, naturally) when Frank is atop a pile of dead Adolf Hitlers, with even more launching themselves at him, guns blazing like the madman he is, and Red Skull, watching, laconically says “I will say this for Frank Castle, the man is nothing if not persistent.” The cover to #4 (there are only four issues in Space: Punisher, unfortunately) is also brilliant: Frank, gun in one hand pointed at Earth in the other, screams at the reader “Buy this comic or I SHOOT this planet!”. 

The story changes several times in such a short span but it doesn’t matter because each change is for the better. It goes from Frank hunting down the murderers of his family to deciding the entire universe can go to hell. If nothing else, this book will make you look at Jarvis, Tony Stark’s butler, in a whole new light and I really want Tieri and Texeira to do a sequel - Space: Jarvis. 

Texeira’s painted, realistic art with obvious life models is a style perfect for this book - the characters don’t look like Marvel cartoons but real people cosplaying and adds this extra layer to the space B-movie feel of the book that makes it even better and funnier. The Watcher portraits are just amazing and have this SNL/Coneheads vibe to them. 

Also included is a one-shot issue written in the style of a trashy “documentary” that debunks the myth of Galactus. It’s definitely not as good as the Space Punisher stuff but it’s in keeping with the anything-goes tone of the book. 

I don’t want to oversell it too much as I think I got a lot out of it because I was expecting so little from it, and it’s not up there with, say, Welcome Back, Frank, but it’s still an awesome Punisher story that fans of the character will love. And it’s funny - did you ever read a funny Punisher comic? Me either, until I read this! Don’t miss this wonderful gem: Space: Punisher!

Space: Punisher

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