Before I go into what the book is about, let’s think about this book as a whole. First, it’s the Punisher. Second, it’s written by Frank Tieri. Third, it’s art by Mark Texeira. Finally, it’s in space. But is this your modern-day Punisher seemingly shot into space à la Planet Hulk? Absolutely not! Where’s the fun in that? No, this is Frank Castle in a fun, futuristic story that just happens to take place in space, at some future point, but giving that cosmic feel to the same Frank Castle we know, love and fear.
The book is told in partial narrative as many Punisher books are, with Frank going into some detail about a mafia gang that he is hunting. Sound familiar? Well, here’s where it deviates. To be overt: the rest of this review is spoileriffic. But really, to discuss how fun this book was there NEEDS to be spoilers. But this is a damn fun book. If you want to, go get it yourself instead of reading this; I won’t be offended. If you want to be convinced, though, read on.
The mafia gang is known as the Six-Fingered Hand. (No, not the one from the Princess Bride…) This group is made up of 6 individuals who seem to run the underworld of the galaxy. Who are they? They are modifications of 6 characters from the current Marvel U! I’ll get to the group in a minute, but first things first. Frank finds a planet where one of the leaders of the mafia, and his immediate group of lackeys, have taken to ground. And he goes on the offensive. Based on the narrative, it sounds like this is the group responsible for the death of his family (should the Punisher origin remain consistent). And finding one of the leaders, he attacks…
Yes, he attacks the Brood. Remember the Brood, from the X-Men? Well these aren’t your Claremont Brood, no sir! No, these are Brood, every last one of them, infected with a Venom symbiote. Yes, you read that right. The name is cheesy – Sym-Brood-Ants – but Frank says it best: “It’s what happens when you mix space bug sleazoids and parasite scum. You get one gigantic merged pussbucket race instead. Real fun.” Yes, Frank, it most certainly is! Armed with a sonic weapon and a force weapon, Frank starts to take them down only to slowly be outnumbered. So who does he call? His faithful robot companion, Chip. Between the 2 of them, some assistance from Frank’s ship, and a bomb that creates a black hole, the Brood are stopped. Now I want you to consider one thing at this point: We are only 10 pages into the book. And it doesn’t let up from here.
Marvel references galore exist through the rest of the book. A bar called the Starjammer, run by a man named Corsair. Punisher looking for Barracuda (right out of Frank’s own Marvel MAX series), who happens to be a marine-based alien but who still talks like the Baracudda from the MAX title. A bouncer at the bar who looks like the Rhino… but is really a Rhino-like alien (for those who get the reference, think a slimmed-down Judoon out of Doctor Who).
Frank tortures Baraccuda until he gets the information he wants – the identities of the Six-Fingered Hand:
- The Sym-Brood-Ant Queen (deceased)
- Doctor Octopus (who really has his lower half as an octopus, like Stewie in that Y2K episode of Family Guy)
- The Green Goblin (looking like he has been taken over during Inferno)
- Magneto (looks human, but with the evil-Spock goatee)
- The Red Skull (who still looks quite Nazi-esque)
- Ultron (remarkably organic looking, not quite robotic)
Just as Frank gets the identities, he gets attacked… by Sabretooth, the Leader, and Deadpool.
So what has Tieri done here? He’s taken the Marvel U and is having some fun. This is not the main universe; he is free to do as he pleases it appears. And no character – related to Punisher mythos or otherwise – appears immune to potentially showing up (at least from the bad-guy sect). The narrative has some cheesy points, but with a book intended to be an immensely fun read, it has to be. But you know what he did which made the book?
He teamed up with Texeira. I think his artwork helped make this book as fun as it is. The Punisher is one of those characters I envision with Texeira’s style (Sabretooth, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Deadpool – the tough guys – being some of the others). The artwork is absolutely gorgeous here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Texeira draw so many aliens in a single book, and this is only the first issue!
All in all, this is a great read. It’s one of the most fun books I’ve read in a long time. The story is solid, the art is great… I bought it as a lark, but now I wish it wasn’t just a 4-issue miniseries! This book has been added to my pull list for the remainder of its run. Oh, and if you haven’t been convinced yet, there is one other think Frank talks about that may make you pick it up for the sheer ridiculousness of it all: Fish porn.