Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Punisher War Journal: Civil War Review

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Ariel Olivetti & Mike Deodato, Jr.

I read the crossover story Civil War, and planned on reading, and reviewing the tie-in novels that I had, and although I read them I never got round to reviewing them. I am however hoping to do that now, and am continuing with this Punisher tie-in volume, with this being my first review from the Punisher War Journal series.


After killing Stilt-Man, Punisher looks for the person supplying villains with high teach weapons, finding a new ally in Stuart Clarke. Punisher the joins Captain America's Secret Avengers after saving Spider-Man.


This was a very good book, and a great opening story for the series. Matt Fraction does a great job of starting this series, using the Civil War event to it's best advantage. I also liked that despite it being a Civil War tie-in that it managed to divert from that story, as with Punisher featuring briefly in the event I was worrying that this may just be a direct copy from Punisher's perspective, but it turned out to be so much more. Faction also added plenty of drama, and suspense in this story, also giving some exciting action sequences. Fraction also got Punisher's characteristics right, and I loved both the dialogue, and the thought boxes that Fraction wrote, as he really seems to understand the character well, as some writers haven't grasped his characteristics in the past, so it was nice that Fraction was able to do this, as although this wasn't the best Punisher story that I've ever read, it helped with the overall quality.

The art in this book was mainly done by Ariel Olivetti, with Mike Deodato, Jr. doing the last issue in the book. Now both artist did an amazing, job, and although I prefer Deodato Jr.'s art over Olivetti's, Ollivetti's suited the Punisher much more, as Deodato Jr.'s art had too much going in it, and felt a little too dark. It also didn't help that the Punisher didn't appear much, but even when he did, he didn't look as rugged, and rough as he did in Olivetti's art. The detail in both artists art was amazing, with very few imperfections. I loved the layout of Olivetti's art, as it was so dynamic, and dramatic, giving a lot of tone to the story. I also loved how Olivetti handled the action as it was very explosive, and exciting, as well as entertaining. The colouring in this book was also brilliant, with both Dean White, and Rain Beredo doing a geat job, though I did feel that White's gave a much better tone that Beredo's.

This story would start with the Punisher killing Stilt-Man. Now I've enjoyed reading stories with Stilt-Man in them before, but he isn't one of my favourite villains, so to be honest I wasn't upset about him getting killed. I did however find this to be a great way of starting the story, as it felt like the start of a Punisher story, rather than an attempt to throw him into an event. I also loved the interaction between Punisher, and Stilt-Man, and how that despite him now being a hero, he was still a killer in Punisher's eyes, which is how the Punisher should react, as he doesn't see heroes, and villains, just good guys, and criminals.

Punisher would then go onto try and find the person supplying the villains with upgrades, eventually finding Stuart Clarke, who used to go under the name of Rampage. Now I found the interaction between these two characters to be very entertaining, and the way Clarke's hatred for Iron Man was utilised was brilliant, as with Iron Man leading the pro-registration side of the Civil War it's nice to have things connect like that. I also enjoyed that despite getting off on the wrong foot how they managed to form an unusual alliance, with Clarke becoming his new Microchip.

During this story Punisher would be pursued by G.W. Bridge, who decided to hunt down the Punisher after he killed Stilt-Man. Now I'm not overly familiar with Bridge, only knowing the basics, and that he was an ally of Cable's at one point as a member Six Pack. I did however enjoy seeing him in this story, as I love seeing powerful characters in Punisher stories, but especially when they're relatively ordinary. I also liked the fact that he really disliked Punisher, and that he would go to any lengths to stop him, something that we haven't seen too much over the last few years.

Finally Punisher joins up with Captain America's Secret Avengers, by brining a near dead Spider-Man to their base. Now I loved Punisher's involvement in the main Civil War story, and it was nice to see his perspective of the events, as although I was glad that this wasn't a carbon copy, I was also happy to see some similarities, as it wouldn't be a good tie-in otherwise. I also loved seeing Punisher interact with Cap during this time, and how all the heroes questioned whether it was the right decision to have Punisher with them. I did however find it slightly disappointing how the Secret Avengers base was a lot planer in this version, as although it suited this story more than the one from the Civil War series itself, I'd have preferred a bit of continuity, even if they were only a little more similar.

Final Verdict

This was a great tie-in story, as well as a brilliant start to this series. It may not have been the best Punisher story ever written, but it had all the elements that a Punisher story should have, feeling very gritty, and realistic. It also had plenty of drama, and suspense, as well as tremendous action. It also had some great developments for the future of this series, also having some great additional characters. Due to all this I'd recommend this story, as it was a great tie-in, and a brilliant Punisher story.

Rating: 8/10

The next Punisher book I'll be reviewing will be Punisher War Journal: Goin' Out West.