Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Booknote: Essential Punisher, vol. 1

Title: Essential Punisher, vol. 1
Author: Gerry Conway, and various artists.
Publication Information: New York: Marvel Comics, 2004
ISBN: 0785113649
Genre: Fiction/Comics
Subgenre: Fantasy/Adventure
568 pages.

This is part of Marvel's Essential series, which collect a lot of comics in single volumes. For fans of comic books, the Essential series make an excellent gift as they are great compilations of comics that one may not be able to get otherwise. The series collects appearances of the character the particular book focuses on from its early beginnings to today. This volume focuses on the character of The Punisher, the former ex-marine who survives a mob hit that kills his family and becomes a one-man army against the mob. The interesting thing for me about this series is that The Punisher made appearances in other comics, such as Spider-Man, Daredevil, and even Captain America, so you get a taste of other heroes as well. Punisher does have his own comics as well. It is also interesting to see how the characters evolve over time. In addition, many of these comics from yesteryear have a certain flavor to them. For instance, Spider-Man is well known for being a smart-aleck when dealing with villains, and this humor plays very well in these comics. There is also a narrative voice (kind of like an announcer, who tells you "previously on our show. . .") that I find kind of neat, but this is pretty much gone from more modern renditions (for an example of a more modern rendition, readers can see my note on Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 4).

At 500-plus pages, I think you get very good value if you are buying it. I borrowed my copy from the public library, but I would definitely consider buying other series, probably the X-Men. Since it is a comics compilation, you do not have to read it all in one sitting, though you may find yourself engaged enough to attempt it. I definitely recommend this. I think older fans may find themselves going down memory lane, and newer readers may get to discover the roots of the many graphic novels today. By the way, this is not The Punisher from the recent films (1989 and more recently 2004). . So, it may be wise not to go into this series thinking that Frank Castle is just like the movies. He is not. He is way cooler, at least I think so.

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