Punisher: Soviet Part 4 - A Girl With a Heart as Big as the Sky
Punisher and Valery Stepanovich decide the best way to reach their quarry, Konstantin Prochenko, is through his wife.
After a fierce yet brief melee, the pair at last uncover their prey.
Zinaida Serbrovna isn't just some hostage or bargaining chip, though. That isn't Punisher's style. No, he wants something else she has: information. But it turns out she has a lot more to do with Pronchenko's rise to power than anyone realized...
Punisher: Soviet #4 is a relatively quiet, almost staid affair – especially compared to writer Garth Ennis’ usual gritty and violent take on the character. The story, which thus far has been about Punisher aiding Russian expat Vasily Stepanovich in his quest to kill arch-gangster Konstantin Pronchenko, detoured into Vasily’s backstory last issue, a brutal and graphic issue that did wonders in helping readers understand his motives – and trauma. It was a side trek, but a necessary one. This issue, though, spends far too much time meditating on the backstory of Pronchenko’s wife Zinaida to feel like anything other than a drag on the story’s forward momentum.
Part of the problem is the straightforward, almost robotic manner in which Serbrovna relays her story. Without hesitation, she offers up her entire life story to the men with the guns (a sensible move, really, to comply with their demands), but it takes up far more pages than necessary. Readers don’t need to know that she was a model at age fifteen and by the age of twenty realized she needed to work her way up the social ladder if she wanted to retain the high-society life she’d grown accustomed to. Or at least, it doesn’t need to be dwelt upon for so long. But Ennis gives readers page after page of her exposition dump, and how her need to attain social status informed the criminal rise of her husband Pronchenko. (Incidentally, she’s his fifth wife, a nugget the writer drops but then never really does anything with.) The expository dialogue might not have been quite as problematic if it weren’t delivered in such a flat, hypnotized way, but Ennis seemed to have more of a plot device in mind for Serbrovna than an actual character. Ouch.
By consequence, the issue’s big action sequences, which buffer the quieter scene with Serbrovna at the beginning and end of the issue, feel more compulsory than necessary, as if the author realized he needed to remind readers that yes, this is a Punisher comic. They’re basically well-executed, but lack any true sense of immediacy or urgency that is typically Ennis’ stock in trade when writing action sequences. When he’s on, he writes the most hardcore action in comics. But when he’s off, like in this issue, it feels more rote than anything else.
Not helping matters is the stiff artwork from Jacen Burrows. Burrows is an artist who walks a fine line between a Steve Dillon (R.I.P.) style art and something with a bit more grit to it; he can draw gore with the best of them when the need arises. But not given much to do this issue, he’s left to block scenes that mostly involve people standing around talking, which simply isn’t his strong suit. That translates to a comic that, unfortunately, is pretty dull to look at.
Hopefully, Ennis is done setting the table and can now get back to the business that Frank Castle does best: mete out punishment better than anyone around. After so much stellar set-up, it would be a shame if Soviet ended with a whimper rather than a bang.
Punisher: Soviet #4 is a pretty downbeat affair, with huge swaths of exposition buttressed by compulsory action sequences. The art is flat and the writing seems to just be going through the motions. Everyone involved is better than this!
Punisher: Soviet #4 (of 6): The Girl Most Likely To
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 5/105/10
Art - 5/105/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
User Review( votes)