Before I start this review I want to make clear that I am in know way a Punisher expert. Honestly, I have never seen the appeal of The Punisher. I get it, he’s violent. The Punisher killing his enemies make him somewhat of a “bad ass”. I have always thought that being a “bad ass” is not enough to be a good comic book protagonist. So ya, you can tell i’m not a huge fan of The Punisher at least that was until I read Born.
“Born” written by Garth Ennis is more of a war novel than a superhero graphic novel. It describes how war gave birth to Frank Castles alter ego, The Punisher. As many of you probably don’t know, I consider myself quite the history buff. Specifically, I have always had an interest in war. So before even starting this book I knew that this novel would be right up my alley.
Obviously since this is a Punisher book, there is violence. But, I don’t feel that the violence defines this book. Their are actually quite a bit of good characters. Two in particular are Goodwin and Angel. Goodwin is the moral compass of the platoon. His main goal in Vietnam is to get home alive. That being said, he still cares for his good friend Angel. Angel is a “junky”. The “Junky” group is frowned upon in the platoon. Goodwin is trying to keep Angel out of this particular crowd but Angel continues to shoot up in secret. In my opinion, these two characters keep the book grounded. Without Goodwin and Angel, the book would honestly be just another Punisher novel.
The art in this book is done by Darrick Robinson. This has to be some of my favorite penciling in any graphic novel I have ever read. In some ways it reminds me of Mark Bagleys artwork. Obviously, it’s much more violent than Bagleys work. Every once in a while you will get a full page mural of beautiful artwork. One of these in particular is when Firebase Valley Forge is being attacked by the NVA. To light up the battlefield, Castle orders flares to be shot up in the sky. The result is a beautiful piece of art that shows the horrors of Vietnam. This page should be in a museum.
I have to give this book a solid 9 out of 10. Though the books art is beautiful, and Born has good characters, it still has some problems. Castles use of violence still is sometimes excessive. I understand that he has a love for war but when he goes around killing men in his platoon, it’s hard to relate with him. Born has definitely opened the door for some more Punisher reviews though and I cant wait to see what comes next.