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Punisher War Zone #4: Stretching Too Far

It seems like writer Greg Rucka's heart isn't quite in his swan song with Frank Castle.

Punisher War Zone #4

Being a fan of Greg Rucka’s Punisher run, I find the unevenness of his final five issues rather disconcerting. Punisher War Zone, the five part story arc Rucka is using as his platform to leave the character, has ranged from exceptional to boring. Issue #3 was the former, issue #4, easily the latter. Rucka has become too immersed in his rediscovery of Frank Castle and it’s caused him to lose perspective.

When last we left the Punisher, his partner in the recent anti-crime killing spree, Sergeant Alves, was found guilty of multiple murders stemming from her and Punisher’s attack on corrupt agency. The Avengers have been assembled by Spider-Man to try and bring in Punisher before there’s more killing. Why Spidey suddenly cares has never been made clear and having this still be Peter Parker while the abysmal Superior Spider-Man is going on is a little disheartening.

Issue #4 was a great one. Ending with a rooftop conversation between Punisher and Thor, #3 had more of the insight into Punisher’s mind that made Rucka’s original run so good. In War Zone #4, Punisher is attempting to rescue his partner Sergeant Alves before she’s put to death. The Avengers know this, so they are devising a plan to catch him. The plan goes awry as Punisher pulls a fast one and rescues Alves in about the most ridiculous way a writer could think of. Punisher steals an Iron Man suit and flies himself, and Alves, out of harm’s way.

The armor theft is hard to swallow, but nothing compared to Rucka’s thinking anyone believes Frank Castle could psych-out the Avengers. I understand that Rucka wants to deepen the Punisher’s mission, make him more of a man possessed than just a random killer. Fooling gangsters, the occasional superhero and drug lords is one thing, but being able to put one over on Captain America, the greatest tactical planner alive, Iron Man, a certified genius, Natasha, a master spy and the rest of the Avengers is a bit much. It renders the human aspects of Rucka’s Punisher null and returns him to a superhero, albeit an anti-hero at best.

I continue to be unimpressed with Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art. His whole approach of anatomy is suspect. Using this off-putting blocky art gives every character the distinct pleasure of being part of a modern art exhibit as opposed to a comic book. Everybody here looks like they’re made of sharp stone. It’s not attractive art to look at and it consistently takes you out of the action.

While I hold no hope for the art, I do hope that War Zone #5 ends this Rucka run on Punisher with the kind of impact it deserves.

4.5

(3.5 Story, 1 Art)