Punisher: Soviet Part 2 - The Other Side of the Mountain
While working his way through the Russian mob, Frank Castle meets a man named Valery Stepanovich, a man very much after his own heart when it comes to mowing down criminals with methodical precision.
This is Valery's story. And it starts in a place called Afghanistan in the '80s...
As Punisher: Soviet morphs into a trademark Garth Ennis war story, it starts to show its teeth and bites down hard. After feeling a little flat in its initial installment, the story turns to one of Ennis’ greatest strengths as a writer: war. The art of the war comic is long lost to the mainstream (it’s been over 30 years since the final issue of Sgt. Rock, comics’ elder statesman on the genre), but Ennis has long held its standard high, both in stand-alone books and within his own oeuvre. Preacher, Hitman, of course his previous Punisher outings; even his star-making turn on Hellblazer had a touch of men-doing-what-men-must-do war ensembles. Perhaps more than anything else, war stories have become Ennis’ signature as an author. And it’s not just because he likes them – it’s because he’s really good at them.
Soviet‘s focus shifts from being nominally about Frank Castle and to the story’s true protagonist, Valery Stepanovich – and his drive for revenge against Russian mob boss Konstantin Prochenko. In a lot of ways, Stepanovich is a stock Ennis supporting character: hard as nails in battle but plucky in spirit otherwise, so resigned to his fate to soldier that he views death with a twinkle in his eye. But he’s also a good counterpoint to Punisher’s grim, humorless solemnity to his work.
This issue is a lot of table-setting, a lot of getting-to-know-you, a lot of exposition. But it’s good stuff, and gives the story a stronger frame of reference going forward. It’s tough to know at this point, but all signs point to this actually being Stepanovich’s story. Frank’s just along for the ride. At least Ennis is in good artistic company: Jacen Burrows and Guillermo Ortega do a solid job of pulling back during the calm moments so that they can explode with marauding fury when the violence breaks loose. Perhaps there could be a bit more variance in characters’ expressions through out, but overall, the art suits the story well.
Next issue looks to really dig into the depths of Valery Stepanovich's backstory, and in all probability will be a tour de force in war storytelling. As for this issue, the table's all set - now it's time to get down to business. If you liked Garth Ennis' previous Punisher tales, you won't be disappointed.
Punisher: Soviet #2 (of 6): “What Was Waiting For Us Up There Would Put the Devil to Shame”
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 6/106/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
User Review( votes)