Frank Castle aka the Punisher is at war with the criminal element. He blames criminals in general for his family being gunned down. Now armed with his military training, vast arsenal, and determination, he takes the battle to those who he deems worthy of being punished. No prisoners will be taken.
The menacing mountain of muscle with a bad attitude named Barracuda has done what so many others have not been able to do, and that's survive a brutal confrontation with the Punisher. Barracuda returns with vengeance on his mind, and this time the scales are tipped heavily in his favor as he prepares for what he feels to be the final confrontation with the Punisher. -summary
Barracuda made his first appearance in Punisher MAX volume 6 as an enemy who appeared to be every bit as unstoppable as the Punisher. He even defeated the Punisher one on one and came very close to feeding him to the sharks. He made one mistake though, he gave the Punisher too much of a chance to retaliate and it nearly cost him his life. This time around he's not taking many chances. Garth Ennis did not exactly wow me with this character previously, and although he does a better job and delivers an entertaining story. I still find Barracuda to be the least interesting threat to the Punisher despite being the deadliest by far. This volume collects Punisher MAX 50 - 54.
Ennis does toss out there one mean revenge story though. Barracuda indeed means business as he attacks the Punisher personally by going after one of his only friends, he then sets a trap that restarts their deadly rivalry. He's so angry about his loss to the Punisher that he mentions every last serious injury dealt to him, such as losing an eye and even fingers in their encounter. Normally, a fight like this would mean nothing to Castle except this time Barracuda is holding someone hostage, and this dirty tactic gets deep into the Punisher's psyche.
The plot mainly consists of one very brutal battle leading to another, with the two planning the location to settle the score. There are various traces of character development as the reader will learn that Barracuda takes losing very personally. Ennis goes further in developing the character by providing background which lead to him being a killer in the first place. It's completely unoriginal and even feels like an after thought. To include, at no time did I sympathize with the character especially knowing he's evil enough to even think about killing an infant. Ennis doesn't really strive for the dark comedic effect this time around as he keeps it fairly serious. The ending is wrapped up very well, plus Ennis plants the seeds for the follow up storyline to take place in the 10th and final volume of his run.
The biggest problem I have with this story is the artwork done by Goran Parlov with issue 50 by Howard Chaykin. Parlov mixes up the artwork with gritty designs and a European cartoonish style, and quite frankly, not only does it not exactly fit with the dark content, but at times it can be ugly as hell. I am not exaggerating when I say Parlov's artwork has many moments of being uneven and terrible. On the plus side at least the action is skin crawling vicious, with characters sinking their teeth deep into human flesh and ripping out chunks, along with devastating blows to the face.
Ennis attempts to play with a few themes giving the story some substance, but I think they're lost in the action and suspense. The story is a straight forward fight to the death and if someone is looking for some mean action, then they'll likely find it here. I enjoyed this volume more than part 6, unfortunately, Barracuda just isn't a character I remember when I look back at this series. I know plenty of people who love him, and he must have been a cool creation since he did get his own mini-series at one point, but I just don't really care for him. In any case, this is a fairly strong volume in the Punisher MAX line up, and I recommend it only to people who have been following the series. This is not at all a good place to start.
Pros: -Sick action, ties up the Barracuda feud
Cons: -Parlov's artwork is not easy to look at all the time.
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About the reviewer
May 22, 2011
Jun 15, 2013 08:21 PM UTC
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