The Feckless Wonder (uvula_fr_b4) wrote,
The Feckless Wonder

I suppose I shouldn't have laughed at this as much as I did.

I've written previously about my ambivalence for the writing of Garth Ennis: while I mostly enjoy his superhero satire / takedown, The Boys, he managed to make his "Boys-verse" nearly as convoluted and contradictory as any decades-long superhero continuity from Marvel and DC, which pretty much defeats the purpose of his satire; and, while I think he's the definitive writer for that randy scouse git John Constantine, and I've warmed up to the hellbilly stylings of his DC Vertigo horror series Preacher a bit more from the first hardbound volume, I've no real desire to read more of his occasional sort-of zombie series Crossed.

But I think that Ennis's true métier is writing war comics (I've enjoyed the first four non-related arcs of his World War II meta-series Battlefields, from Dynamite Entertainment, as well as the 12-issue Marvel MAX series Fury MAX: My War Gone By, which is a retcon of the career of Marvel's longest-running military character turned elite secret agent, Nick Fury; I remain ambivalent about Ennis's first Fury MAX mini-series, with spectacularly gory artwork by Transmetropolitan and The Boys co-creator Darick Robertson), or at least writing paramilitary-type action comics such as Punisher MAX.

Ennis is quite outspoken in his disdain for superheroes (perhaps most especially WWII-based heroes such as Captain America, which he feels detract from the true heroism exhibited by the ordinary grunts who actually fought the war), but he will deign to write the occasional non-superpowered (or low superpowered, such as his character Tommy Monaghan, Hitman, who was a low-level telepath and had x-ray vision that he used to aid him in his relatively modest -- and wholly illegal -- occupation) character, as long as he can peel him off from said character's usual superhero continuity.

His take on the former Spider-Man frienemy, The Punisher, for Marvel's The Punisher series (part of Marvel's adult line of MAX titles), was a joy to behold: it started out like Mack Bolan on crank and just amped up from there. It's a testament to Ennis's skill that the series wasn't merely mindless mayhem; Ennis managed to introduce a few poignant, downbeat moments, as well as several moments of pitch-black humor, if you're of a certain, doubtlessly sick, mindset.

Following is a prime example of the latter: a splash page (pg. 4) fr The Punisher MAX, Vol. 1, #53 (Feb. 2008), written by Garth Ennis, art by Goran Parlov (who also did stellar work on Fury MAX: My War Gone By), colours by Lee Loughridge; this is part 4 of 5 of "Long Cold Dark," which is collected in Punisher MAX Vol. 9: Long Cold Dark.

Punisher MAX v 1 no 53 p 4 -- Goran Parlov art(1)

The poor bound bastard getting tortured is Barracuda, but really, he kinda deserved it. He kidnapped the Punisher's (just introduced) toddler daughter and strapped a claymore mine to the side of her car seat.

The biggest jarring note for me in "Long Cold Dark"? Barracuda singing along in his car to Nick Cave's version of "Stagger Lee." Yes, yes, a great song with hilariously over-the-top lyrics ("I'd crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole" -- REALLY?!), but that sequence pulled me out of the story, even more than Barracuda's absurd, Paul Morrissey-esque / Monty Python-esque near indestructibility.

Nick Fury has a run-in with Barracuda in #10-12 of Fury MAX: My War Gone By; Barracuda also starred in his own 5-issue mini-series, Punisher Presents: Barracuda, which I've yet to read. Hello, inter-library lending service..?

Tags: comic books, humor, violence
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