Comic Book Review: Punisher: War Journal #8

The Revolution has been dreadfully unimpressed with the rather pathetic Hate-Monger story arc that Fraction has cobbled together. The past couple of issues have been practically unreadable. I’m talking some of the worst dialogue you will read in a comic book. The only redeeming quality has been the wonderful artwork that Olivetti has supplied to Punisher: War Journal. Is there a chance that Fraction can get me to enjoy a story arc that revolves around a Nazi themed villain? I doubt it. Let’s go ahead and hit the review for Punisher: War Journal #8.

Creative Team
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 1 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin this issue with learning that you can use racial slurs about white people in comic books as the Punisher calls Hate Monger a “cracker.” We get treated to some generic “tough guy” talk as Punisher insults Hate Monger. Hey, more racial slurs about white people as Punisher calls Hate-Monger a “redneck.” (Have we hit on every single racial slur for white people?) Oh, Punisher then calls Hate Monger “cracker trash.” (Wow, while you can’t use racial slurs toward certain minorities, there is no problem with unloading them on the poor blancos.)

Mercifully, that horribly written scene ends and we cut to Bridge on the SHIELD Helicarrier. Bridge is meeting with Tony Stark. Tony informs Bridge that Punisher has continually slipped away from Bridge numerous times. Tony says that Manhattan cannot withstand the damage if the Punisher slips away from Bridge again. Tony says that it is time for SHIELD to wash its hands of Bridge in any and all capacities. Bridge then salutes Tony and exits. Tony comments how that felt totally wrong having to dismiss Bridge.

We then flashback to Punisher walking into Clarke’s room. Tatiana then emerges from the bathroom and Punisher attacks her with a knife. (And understandably so since women clad only in a towel and fresh from a shower are often extremely dangerous.) Before Punisher can gut Tatiana, Clarke tells Punisher to relax that she is his girlfriend.

Clarke admits that he purposely showed Punisher the photograph that Tatiana took of Hate-Monger in order to get Punisher to come and help. Punisher retorts that he and Clarke will deal with that fact later. Punisher then fills Clarke in on Hate-Monger’s plan. Punisher then says they have to fight fire with fire and wants Clarke to get him a modified Captain America costume.

We then shift to Bridge in a motel in New Jersey. Bridge pops open his laptop and posts a one million dollar reward for any information leading to the capture of Frank Castle. Bridge posts the reward to every skip-tracer and bounty hunter in North America.

We hop over to the Sheriff’s office where Tank and another Nazi goon ask the Sheriff the name for the newspaper reporter who came to the home of Carla, the 911 operator. The Sheriff says that her name is Tatiana Arocha.

We cut back to the Punisher modeling his new Captain America styled costume like a proud 1st grader on Halloween. The “best part” of the costume isn’t all the weapons and gadgets it has on it. Nope, it is the Punisher’s symbol combined with Captain America’s symbol. (Awwww, that is so cute. I never knew that little Frankie cared so much about Steve Rogers.)

Punisher says that Hate-Monger is waging a war of ideas and that on that kind of battlefield that Captain America can be an H-bomb. (But definitely not an A-bomb.) That Frank should know. That he has seen it.

We then shift to Clarke and Tatiana dropping Punisher off in the desert. The Punisher then comments to himself for the Nazis to come and get him. Clarke and Tatiana then drive off. Unfortunately, Tank and the other Nazi thug, who are in the Sheriff’s patrol car, pull up behind Clarke with the squad car’s lights on. Clarke pulls over and Tank and the other thug abduct Tatiana. Clarke drives off in his truck as Tank and the other thug shoot their guns at his truck.

We then cut to the present with Hate-Monger proceeding to beat the hell out of the Punisher. Hate-Monger then does a “Heil Hitler.” (Of course. I can’t remember the last time I walked around America and didn’t see someone heiling Hitler.)

Hate-Monger then pulls out his grandfather’s Luger. (Again, of course.) Hate-Monger starts in on a rambling incoherent rant about how evidently his destiny was to kill the Punisher. (Huh? I thought it was to take over America.) Hate-Monger is about to shoot Punisher when one of Hate-Monger’s thugs tells him to stop. Suddenly, we see a laser sight beam on Hate-Monger’s chest. Hate-Monger’s thug tells Hate-Monger to not move. That they are not alone.

Commentary
The Good: Thank god for Olivetti’s great artwork. If it wasn’t for Olivetti’s fine effort on this title then I don’t think I would have been able to fulfill the requirement of saying something positive about every issue I review as imposed on me by The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity.

Olivetti cranks out another great looking comic book. I really dig Olivetti’s painted style of art. His characters look so three dimensional and realistic. I dig Olivetti’s anatomy and think that he draws one of the most bad-assed versions of Punisher that you will ever see.

The Bad: Obviously, we all know that Punisher: War Journal #8 violated The Revolution’s Nazi Rule. Because of that violation, The Revolution imposed the mandatory 2 Night Girl reduction to the story rating for this issue.

Punisher: War Journal #8 was a painfully slow and boring issue. Fraction has managed to deliver an entire issue and pretty much do absolutely nothing in that issue. We end this issue basically at the exact same spot that we started the issue. This entire story arc has been moving at the pace of a blind and drunk snail.

Fraction’s dialogue was nothing short of horrendous. I have read some poor dialogue before, but this pathetic excuse that Fraction rolls out in Punisher: War Journal #8 is some of the worst. The dialogue was a nightmarish combination of being cheesy, stiff and unoriginal.

Fraction fails to perform any character work at all. Each character comes across rather one-dimensional and insipid. Punisher’s bizarre obsession with Captain America didn’t work for me. I know that Punisher was in the military and that Captain America is the patron saint for all military men. However, seeing Punisher play the role of the sycophant just didn’t sit right with me. Punisher is not the deepest and most complex hero in the Marvel Universe. A no-nonsense character like the Punisher that often comes across more of a machine than a human absolutely needs to have a charismatic villain.

Unfortunately, Fraction has done Punisher no favors by saddling this story arc with one of the most uncharismatic villains possible. Hate-Monger is a complete caricature that makes the reader bust out laughing at all of the most inappropriate times. During Hate-Monger’s dialogue I usually find myself chuckling. When they all start breaking out into a “Spring Time for Hitler” heiling session out of nowhere I absolutely busted out laughing.

Hate-Monger is a character that is so outrageously unrealistic and so retardly over the top that he comes across as a complete and total joke that the reader just can’t take seriously. I’m glad that Fraction still bills Hate-Monger in the intro of this issue as the “All-New, All-Racist Hate-Monger!” C’mon! That is some funny shit!! All-Racist. Hilarious. Unfortunately, I don’t think Fraction is playing for jokes with this story arc or with Hate-Monger. And Hate-Monger makes this entire story arc seem like a spoof rather than a serious story.

I find this entire story arc mind numbingly boring. This story arc reads like pure filler and has totally de-railed any and all momentum that Fraction has built on the first couple of issues of this title. Fraction is veering into dangerous territory of having failed to give this new title any direction or purpose. While Punisher: War Journal’s lack of direction isn’t as extreme as what we have gotten over on Ghost Rider, it is certainly not what you would want to see on a new title.

I was under the impression that this title was going to center on Punisher locking horns with metahuman villains in New York as he expands his war on crime beyond just human street criminals. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as Fraction has totally veered off course with this completely random story arc. It is always important for a writer to get a new title off to a fast start and to craft a clear direction and purpose for that title in order to keep readers from jumping shift after the first several issues.

Overall: Punisher: War Journal #8 was another abysmal read. I am stunned at the poor level of writing that Fraction has given us over this story arc. I was so impressed with the first couple of issues of this title. I’m shocked at how quickly this title has sunk. I’m reconsidering my initial assessment of Fraction’s skills as a writer. This story arc makes me think that I enjoy Iron Fist more because of Brubaker’s talents rather than co-writer Fraction’s talents. Unless you are a huge Punisher fan or simply can’t get enough of Nazi themed villains, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money on Punisher: War Journal.

3 Comments

  1. “We then flashback to Punisher walking into Clarke’s room. Tatiana then emerges from the bathroom and Punisher attacks her with a knife. (And understandably so since women clad only in a towel and fresh from a shower are often extremely dangerous.)”

    Well, quite obviously the Punisher was very worried that Tatiana was going to use her bazookas against him 🙂

    Okay, sorry, really bad joke. But, hey, from reading your review, this whole issue sounds like a bad joke, anyway. I generally do not expect too much subtlety from your typical Punisher story, but this is rhidiculously blunt even by those standards. This new Hate Monger sounds horribly over the top. Not even Red Skull and Baron Strucker are written like this any longer.

    As for the Punisher’s “cracker” and “redneck” comments… didn’t you know? According to the PC police, it’s not racism if you insult a white Christian male’s race or religion. (I’m being sarcastic, by the way, but there are probably people out there who seriously belive that.)

  2. Come on, you missed the best part, where the punisherfights the hate monger with the deadliest weapon of all, yo mama jokes. It’s a well known fact that Nazis and horribly vunerable to yo mama jokes. In fact durring world war two, Churchhill dropped such a slam on Hitler invloving the suppossed weight of his mother, that as a direct result, Hitler lost western Poland.

    I think, and I may be wrong that the idea of the hatemonger is to make Punisher reflect Captain America. Just like Cap fought Nazis, so too does the New Cap fight the new Nazis. The logic is slighty dimished by the fact that Cap fought Nazis in the second world war, when the actully were Nazis.

    I was confused about the whole insult thing. Punisher calling the HM a cracker is like the ritz calling the salitne a cracker, It could be though like how wthic groups can uses slurs for each other that would be racists if other people said it. I don’t know. Honestly, the whole thing was a wash for me.

    Luckly, I have faith that it will turn out that this punisher will turn out to be a Skrull.

  3. The whole run on Pun:WJ Vol 2 sucked.

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