After a long break that I regret almost daily, I returned to the world of comic books in 2014. Boy, did I miss a lot! For the past four years, I have done my best to catch back up on all my favorite comic book heroes that I grew up with. This includes The Punisher — Frank Castle has always held a special place in my heart. He doesn’t have powers. He didn’t come from another planet. He’s straight up a guy who lost his family and has a thirst for justice that seems to never be quenched.
Jason Aaron and the late, great Steve Dillon’s Punisher Max run is one that has been on my to-read list, so when I had the opportunity to read Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Volume 7, there was no way in hell that I was going to pass it up! The book showed up in my mailbox on a Saturday. I opened the package, sat down, and began to skim through it. Well, skimming turned into reading, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t sit and read the entire graphic novel in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down!
Is it good?
Well, yeah! Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Volume 7 is an action packed and exciting story from cover to cover. The mob has a plan to finally end The Punisher once and for all. They turn low-level enforcer Wilson Fisk into a fictional character called “Kingpin,” baiting Castle to hunt him down. Unfortunately for the mob, Fisk digs his new title, turns on his bosses, and kills them. The Kingpin is now real and is a threat to anyone who crosses his path.
Even though this is a Punisher story, the real story is the rise and fall of the Kingpin, as writer Jason Aaron delivers a refreshing look at the character. His highs, his lows, the sacrifices he makes, and the family he turns his back on, all in order to be on top of the world. Aaron does an excellent job bringing the human element out of a ruthless crime boss. There are times where I genuinely felt for Fisk and trust me, I have never felt a damn thing for the Kingpin in my life.
Aaron doesn’t hold back and dives into the mortality of Frank Castle. He is getting older, he doesn’t heal as fast as he used to, and his age is beginning to haunt him. It gives the very real feeling that Castle is just a normal human and time eventually catches up to us all, including our heroes. I also liked how Aaron wrote Castle’s family. We all know what happened to Frank’s family, just like we all know what happened to Batman’s parents and Uncle Ben. But it is a staple of The Punisher’s history, so I wasn’t surprised to see Aaron tackle the subject. He did a fantastic job adding depth to Castle’s family. The rocky relationship between Frank and his wife is heartbreaking, and very well written.
So How “Max” is Punisher Max?
In case you aren’t familiar with the “Max” titles, let me break it down quickly for you. Max is an imprint of Marvel Comics that specializes in R-rated comic book content. It launched in 2001 after Marvel broke with the Comics Code Authority and established its own rating system. So, as you can probably guess, Punisher totally fits in the “Max” category. Steven Dillion does a killer job with the violent artwork. He gets up close and personal with the characters in dramatic fashion, and the action is brutal in trademark Dillion style. It’s so damn good, but also bittersweet for obvious reasons. Matt Hollingsworth does an outstanding job with the colors. They are gritty, but gorgeous. The colors are the perfect companion to Dillion’s pencil work.
We should just go buy this now?
Hell yes! If you’re a Punisher fan and this isn’t in your collection, hit up Amazon as soon as you finish reading this and buy it! It easily became one of my favorite Punisher stories of all time. The Punisher Max: Complete Collection Volume 7 has it all. Not only does The Punisher face off against the Kingpin, he also clashes with a very psychotic, unnerving version of Bullseye, as well as a seductive Elektra. So if you are looking for an exceptionally well written, incredibly drawn Punisher story, then you need to look no further than Punisher Max: The Complete Collection #7. This book gets a 10 all day long!
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