The Punisher has wiped out most of the mafia families bosses, and the new bosses are now afraid to make any type of real moves. They assemble in a meeting under Don Rigoletto, and he comes up with a plan to create the Kingpin of Crime, who prior to this was only a myth. He attempts to use his bodyguard Wilson Fisk as bait to draw the Punisher into a trap. But has Rigoletto bit off more than he can chew?
Punisher and Bullseye had finally engaged in their deadly clash, which ended with the Punisher being taken to a prison hospital with multiple injuries. When he's finlly able to walk, the guards transport him to solitary. The Punisher is among nothing but enemies; criminals want him dead either out of revenge or to make a name for themselves, and now cops want him dead since he shot and injured two of them plus killed a crooked one. Punisher must find a way to survive and escape prison in order to continue his feud with the Kingpin. -summary
I seriosuly doubt fans will ever claim Jason Aaron as a better writer than Garth Ennis to ever pen the Punisher, but one thing is for sure though, they will definitely acknowledge him as a worthy successor and a writer who knows how the character should work. His take on the PunisherMAX series at this point can only be described as incredible. Collecting issues 12-16, PunisherMAX: Frank takes the introspective route and examines Frank Castle, and what may have turned him into the Punisher. I thihk of this book as the direct follow up to Punisher: Born written by Garth Ennis.
This book contains by far the most interesting batch of stories in the series. The story follows two plots; with one taking place in Ryker's Island following Frank Castle in confinement. His enemies are attempting to hatch a plan on killing him, lead by a guy named Big Jesus, whom is serving multiple consecutive life terms. He's willing to do anything in order to get to the Punisher and this creates an interesting sub plot. The second part of the plot is what makes this book so great. Now if you were one of those people out there who felt Punisher: Born was a little too short, and wondered what happened to Frank before he became the Punisher, you get that story here. This portion follows Frank as he tries to deal with life after the Vietnam war, moving from one job to the next trying to battle his demons. This part of the story is so well done, because it also examines his family as they had to deal with him being home for good from the military. The reader will get to see that this kind of re-adjustment just isn't easy on some people, as his wife tries to make him feel at home, while his kids are so distant. I like how Aaron doesn't beat around the bush or goes the ambiguous route. He provides a clear reason on what made Frank choose this path backed up by some interesting foreshadowing. It's quite scary in a way, because there are people who came home from these conflicts suffering from some form of mental problems, and they were just never able to adjust to what some would consider a normal life.
This volume is far more character driven than action, and when compared to the previous two volumes that may be a problem for some. There are some gory moments, however, this time the blood soaked pages aren't pesent for gratiutous violence. Instead there's some meaning behind it that expands on Frank's character. Steve Dillon's artwork is better here with nicer character designs and some type of effort into the backgrounds. There's a couple of squemish moments I can think of, like a guy pulling a blade from underneath his fingernail. Overall it's a step up in this area.
I enjoyed this volume more than the others, because I'll always prefer top notch character development and strong story before a blood bath. PunisherMAX: Frank, like the previous volume as well, holds up very well on its own. It barely even references the last story which is a good thing. I recommend this book along with the first two if you have any interest in the Punisher at all. Pros: