Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Punisher MAX: Homeless Review (Jason Aaron, Steve Dillon)

No guns, no safehouses, no allies - no problem.

Frank is being hunted by the police and the gangs alike, who’re now unafraid of the ailing and suddenly humanised Punisher. He’s got nowhere to hide, he’s got to rebuild his arsenal, and Elektra is now after him too, but his target is unchanged: Kingpin. 

The final chapter in Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon’s Punisher MAX series is a remarkable and fitting end to an astonishing run. But it’s a final chapter in another sense as this is the last gasp of the classic Punisher, the Vietnam-era Frank Castle. The Punisher going forward from this book is a younger man of an indeterminate age who’s a veteran of an unnamed war, so as not to date him (Marvel don't want old man characters). 

It’s a helluva sendoff. Bullseye, Elektra, Kingpin and his missus Vanessa, and, of course, Frank, all get theirs in an epic blood-soaked journey. Aaron weaves in flashbacks from Frank’s life throughout, giving the book poignancy amidst the intense carnage, while Dillon shows us the old man he’s become, slowing down until the end but going out swinging. Suffice it to say it gets pretty emotional. 

The Nick Fury epilogue though is quite a eulogy – Fury’s definitely not sentimental about Frank and his life’s work! It’s an utterly brilliant farewell from a unique perspective and, in the end, Fury respected the hell out of Frank. Without spoiling anything, he does the best thing for him, and that final page is the real eulogy for the Punisher – or at least the only one he’d want. 

Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon’s Punisher MAX series has been outstanding, easily one of the character’s best arcs, up there with Garth Ennis’ definitive work, and among Aaron’s finest books - a masterpiece. If you love the character, you need to read this, and if you’ve already read it, like me, but it’s been a few years, give it re-read – it’s even better the second time round! Dark, bitter, powerful, bloody and totally satisfying, this fourth volume is the only end The Punisher was going to have and it’s perfect. 

No guts, no glory - and you had a lotta guts, Frank.

To the only version of The Punisher worth a damn - Frank Castle, 1974 – 2012 - cheers!

The Punisher MAX: Homeless

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