The Punisher's one-man wave of carnage reaches its apex as he closes in on Jigsaw, who - among many other terrible crimes - has now killed Sister Mercy in an attempt to goad Frank's anger. The showdown between these old archenemies begins with a thrill-a-minute motorcycle chase!
Things continue to escalate until Punisher finally gets Jigsaw where he wants him...
...But ultimately, other things get in the way. Namely, the fact that Baron Zemo - having just found out that the Punisher is making a beeline straight for him - just blew up his entire presidential tower and is making his escape from the failed nation that is Bagalia! Zemo isn't quite fast enough to outrun Frank - even with a fighter jet...
But pesky wind shear and gravity and lack of oxygen can't stop the Punisher! One way or another, he'll have his final confrontation with Baron Zemo - and only one man is walking away!
There’s a scene early on in The Terminator that sets the tone for the rest of the movie: Schwarzenegger arrives from the future into present day, buck-naked, and proceeds to absolutely demolish some dim-witted punks plus Bill Paxton without missing a beat or really thinking too much about it. The punks are dealt with as casually as a fly would be shooed away, but with far more lethality. The scene is brief, but serves as a template for the remainder of the film: it doesn’t matter what you throw at the T-800, he’s just not going to stop – let alone allow it to give him pause. And so it goes.
In “War in Bagalia,” (and particularly in the back half of the story), writer Matthew Rosenberg has for all intents and purposes decided that the Punisher is the second coming of the Terminator.
In a nutshell, ever since he broke free of the Hydra prison, Frank Castle has been on the killing spree to end all killing sprees. And while there have been some fun moments – after three issues, the proceedings have gotten more than a little tedious. Over the course of those issues, the Punisher has gone from being the best there is at what he does (sorry, Wolverine, but it’s true) to an utterly unstoppable machine of vengeance-fueled mayhem. He essentially stops being human and becomes a T-800.
I don’t necessarily mind this approach to the Punisher in small doses, but for Rosenberg it seems to be his default for Frank. Arch-Punisher Writing God Garth Ennis wrote plenty of sequences like this. The difference is that Ennis only did it after plenty of build-up, to make Frank’s mega-sprees feel earned. With Rosenberg, it’s so constant that the action loses any impact because there are no stakes anymore. It’s action porn for the sake of action porn.
Don’t get me wrong, nobody reads Punisher for the character development. It’s not how the guy is built, and any time past writers have tried to mess with Frank’s basic formula, it’s backfired spectacularly. The key to writing a good Punisher story is finding new and interesting situations to drop him into, then just let him go to town. And honestly, Rosenberg got off to a good start from that perspective. Throwing Punisher smack dab into a Hydra-run country where people who aren’t total scum are the minority is a great idea, rife with possibility. But it’s after that basic plot set-up that Rosenberg gets into trouble, because instead of coming up with anything suitably clever to match the premise, he just goes full-bore action. The same thing happened in this book’s previous arc.
Rosenberg’s generally not a bad writer, but on this book, he needs to show more restraint and creativity. Do more than just have whole issues of Punisher causing mass mayhem without putting forth any significant effort. Sure, we know the guy’s going to win in the end – but shouldn’t the writer be unafraid of asking readers to wonder how he’s going to get there?
Writer Matthew Rosenberg swings for the fences and comes up short, in his latest repetitive all-action-no-plot issue of Punisher.
Punisher #11: Terminator Syndrome
Writing - 4/104/10
Storyline - 6/106/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 6/106/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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