WRITER: GARTH ENNIS | ART: JACEN BURROWS | PUBLISHER: MARVEL | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Russian mobsters dead; torn to shreds in a hailstorm of gunfire. Just another day in the life of Frank Castle. Except this time, the Punisher had nothing to do with it. There’s another gun-happy vigilante on the loose in New York, and our Frank doesn’t know how to feel about it. We’ve seen how the Punisher deals with fellow Death Wish wannabes in Welcome Back Frank, and these things are likelier to end in bloodshed than bromance.
But first, Frank has to find the mystery murderer. Cue the detective work, Punisher-style. Garth Ennis is back to helm this six-issue miniseries, and Soviet feels distinctly like a return to his Punisher: MAX days. Which is no bad thing; from start to finish, Ennis’s run on the character was arguably one of the strongest of all time, and some of the author’s best work too. Unless he’s doing Preacher or Hitman, the taking-it-seriously hardboiled Garth Ennis is far more preferable to try-hard edgelord Garth Ennis. He’s joined by old Crossed (a work of try-hard edgelord-ism, if ever there was one) pal Jacen Burrows on pencils, whose own sensibilities are a good fit for the character and story. He certainly gets the gore and ultraviolence right, and his Punisher gives even Steve Dillon’s perma-scowl a run for his money. Say, is that guyliner Frank is wearing?
As such, there are no overt spandex super-heroics to be found here, and the pacing is slow yet precise. There are five more issues to go, and neither Ennis nor Frank are the type to rush into something. Soviet #1 is a return to Garth Ennis’s very particular style of Punisher writing, and one that has been very missed by fans of the character.
Welcome back, Garth.