PUNISHER: WAR MACHINE Celebrates Frank Castle Without Glorifying His Killing

Writing/Story
Pencils/Inks
Coloring
Lettering
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Punisher: War Machine volume two is out November 14th, and it’s an action-packed celebration of everything Punisher fans enjoy, but it a tactful, tasteful way that doesn’t glorify murder.

This volume is written by Matthew Rosenberg, drawn by Stefano Landini and Guiu Vilanova, colored by Lee Loughridge, and lettered by Cory Petit.

Last volume, Nick Fury gave Frank Castle the War Machine armor to go overseas and topple a violent regime. Castle of course went rogue, almost started a nuclear war, and refused to return the armor. Now, he’s back in New York City, and the superhero community isn’t too happy to see him running around killing people in their dead friend’s armor.

There’s a lot to love in this run, even if you’re not a typical Punisher fan. Rosenberg’s dialogue is as smart and witty as it always is, and it’s so great to see him writing Hawkeye and Winter Soldier again. The action is kick-ass, thanks to dynamic art by Landini and Vilanova, as well as explosive coloring by Loughridge. And almost all of Marvel’s New York-based supersquad makes an appearance, allowing both Rosenberg and the art team to play in the sandbox and have fun smashing their toys together.

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Whether you like action, humor, redemption stories, or spy thrillers, there’s something for you in Punisher: War Machine. But what volume two does so well is celebrate Frank Castle without excusing his lethal methods.

Punisher uses the armor to its full potential, taking out bad guys and Hydra scum in over-the-top ways like he never could before. And he does it all to clear his name and redeem himself from siding with Hydra during Secret Empire. So on the one hand, you get big, fun action with some purpose behind it. You feel for Frank; he was manipulated and wants to make good.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel and the rest of the superheroes are chasing him down. This volume is one long game of cat and mouse. They constantly condemn him for being what he is: a killer. And, without spoiling anything, the ending really sends the message home. Say what you will about Frank Castle. Agree or disagree about his tactics. But the man is not a hero.

But, then again, he wouldn’t claim to be one.

Punisher: War Machine is complex like the best Punisher comics are. It presents both sides of the “Frank Castle Argument” without really taking a side, but also without excusing murder, allowing the readers to think for themselves. And above all, it’s fun. You can pick up both volumes this Wednesday for a complete story that packs a physical and philosophical punch.

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Anthony Composto - EIC
Editor-in-Chief for Monkeys Fighting Robots. A lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the Mets, Anthony loves an underdog story. He earned his B.A. in English because of his love for words, and his MBA because of his need for cash. He considers comics to be The Great American Art Form, and loves horror movies, indie dramas, action/thrillers, and everything in between.