Comic Book Review: Punisher: War Journal #7

The Revolution was really disappointed in the last issue of Punisher: War Journal. Fraction had really impressed me with his job on this title and then he trotted out a real clunker with a story involving the totally uninteresting Hate-Monger. As long as Punisher #7 revolves around the inanely lame Hate-Monger then there is absolutely zero chance that I’m going to enjoy this issue. Let’s go ahead and get this review over with.

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: Hate-Monger decides than rather to just go ahead and shoot Punisher in the head right now, that Hate-Monger wants to shoot Punisher in an area so he won’t die and then watch Punisher bleed out and then feed Punisher to Hate-Monger’s dogs. But, wait there’s more. Hate-Monger wants the Punisher wearing his “super-suit” while Hate-Monger pulls off this ridiculously intricate killing.

We then flashback to Frank and Clarke in a truck heading out to find Hate-Monger. Clarke talks about how there are Maquillas along the border where no tariffs or taxes apply. Raw goods are brought in and the finished products shipped out. They are dictatorial sweatshops. That the 2,000 miles of the border between the U.S. and Mexico is now militarized and they are building a fence.

That the value of human trafficking a year is seven to twelve billion dollars. Coyotes get paid a grand or two to smuggle people into the U.S. Unfortunately, many times the people being smuggled die in the process. In the last ten years 2,000 people have died crossing the border. That vigilante militias are patrolling the borders to stop people fleeing a system designed to crush them with abject poverty. (Jesus Christ, I hope Fraction doesn’t break his neck stepping off the soapbox! Seriously, I don’t think even the padre at my local iglesia has ever preached to me that much.)

Punisher tells Clarke when they get into town for Clarke to find the girl who took the picture of Hate-Monger in the paper and Frank will find the militias killing people.

We see a U.S. Customs officer telling Tati, the photographer who snapped the picture of Hate-Monger, to let the situation go. That it happened in Mexico so they should let the Mexicans deal with it.

Tati then asks the Customs officer which operator took the 911 call about Al-Qaeda operatives crossing the border. The Customs officer begrudgingly tells Tati who the operator was that took the call.

We then cut to Punisher walking into a little bar full of white racists. (The only kind you ever see in comics.) Frank says he is here to help protect the U.S. border. One of the white dudes with a swastika tattoo and a shirt the “SS” logo on it introduces himself as “Tank.”

We shift to Tati visiting the trailer of the operator who took the 911 call. The operator’s name is Carla. Unfortunately, someone came in earlier and killed Carla. Tati finds Carla’s body. Tati then quickly flees the trailer park and heads back to her apartment.

Tati locks her apartment door and gets ready to call the cops. Suddenly, Clarke knocks on Tati’s door and says that Tati left her keys in the doorknob. Clarke opens the door and Tati hits him with her phone. Tati then recognizes Clarke. Tati is stunned and says that she though Clarke was dead. Tati then plants a huge kiss on Clarke.

We cut to Punisher with his hands tied and a blindfold on. Tank says it is time for Frank’s initiation. Tank unleashes a bull on Frank. Frank cuts the rope around his wrists on the bull’s horns. Frank then pulls off the blindfold. Frank tears a board off the wall around the pen he is in. Frank then smashes the bull in its head with the board and knocks out the bull. (Whaaat? Frank is strong enough to knock a bull out with one shot?)

Hate-Monger then appears on the scene and thanks Tank for brining him a crazy S.O.B. like Frank.

We then shift back to the present. Hate-Monger has finished dressing Frank in a costume that is a combination of the Punisher costume and the Captain America costume. Frank says that he is going to kill Hate-Monger. Hate-Monger calls Frank a “tortilla-loving race-traitor.” (Yeah…um…right, Mexican is not a different race. It is a different nationality. A different ethnicity. Not a different race. There are Mexicans who are white. There are Mexicans who are Native-American. And there are Mexicans who are a combination of both. For example, Salma Hayek is half Spanish (white European) and half Lebanese Arab. But, she is 100% Mexican.)

Hate-Monger blah,blah,blahs about the white race and America. Hate-Monger says he is the future and the future is white and Christian and right. (Ah, the unholy trinity in America. A conservative white Christian. We should really start crucifying them in public squares all across America. After all the ONLY racists in America are conservative white Christians. If we beat down the blancos enough and eradicate all white racists then we know that all racism would simply disappear from the Earth.)

Hate-Monger then tells his “National Force” soldiers to shoot Frank. Frank asks if this is all Hate-Monger has got? If Hate-Monger thinks this is enough to kill Frank. If this is all it will take to kill Captain America. End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: Punisher: War Journal #7 sucked. There is no other way to put it. But, The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity still must be followed. So, what did I enjoy about this issue? Ariel Olivetti’s wonderful artwork. I dig his painted style of art. Olivetti gives Punisher: War Journal a nice distinctive and original look. Plus, Olivetti draws one seriously bad-ass Punisher.

The Bad: Punisher: War Journal #7 violated The Revolution’s Nazi Rule so I had to impose an automatic 2 Night Girls deduction. However, that was really not necessary since even without the Nazi Rule violation, Fraction managed to roll out such a stinker of an issue that Punisher: War Journal #7 wasn’t going to get a good rating from me anyway.

I absolutely loathe Hate-Monger’s character. He is quite possibly the most unoriginal, uninteresting and mind numbingly boring villain I have ever seen in a comic book. There is absolutely nothing about this villain that even remotely appeals or engages me on any level whatsoever. And I firmly believe that a comic book is only as strong as the villain. Without an excellent villain, a comic book will more than likely fail. This is absolutely the case with Punisher: War Journal #7.

And Fraction is so outrageously over the top with how he handles Hate-Monger’s character that I simply cannot take Hate-Monger seriously and end up laughing hysterically at the most inappropriate times at Hate-Monger’s pathetic dialogue. I don’t think that Fraction is trying to be funny when it comes to Hate-Monger’s character nor do I think Fraction wants us to laugh out loud at Hare-Monger’s dialogue. Unfortunately, Hate-Monger’s character is so idiotic that it becomes outrageously funny.

Even the way Fraction wrote the intro on the very first page of this issue filling in the reader on what happened in the last issue was stupidly funny. Fraction described Hate-Monger as the “all-new, all-racist Hate-Monger.” BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

All-racist?! Like you have your part-time racists who only work after 5 on weekdays and weekends. Or maybe your sometimes racists who can decide whether they can commit to being a full fledged racist. Or maybe your trial period racist who is just wondering if hating other races is really the lifestyle direction they want to go in. It is just so insanely stupid and makes Hate-Monger and this story seem like a joke and a parody rather than the straight and serious preachy story that Fraction is trying to deliver.

Also Fraction is way too preachy in this issue. I expect mi padre to preach away when I go to my iglesia. I have a pretty old school padre and he doesn’t preach as hard as Fraction does in this issue. Honestly, I read comic books to be entertained and not preached to.

Now, the bigger issue is that despite the Nazi Rule violation, Punisher: War Journal #7 was just a terribly crafted and executed issue. This issue was horridly paced and plotted. Fraction manages to bring the pace of this story to a screeching halt with this issue. Absolutely nothing happens. We get mostly boring flashback scenes that don’t really do much for me. And then we end Punisher: War Journal #7 at the exact same spot that we did at the end of Punisher: War Journal #6.

It might have been a better idea for Fraction to have simply started with Punisher and Clarke arriving at the border town, infiltrating the Nazis and then getting caught rather than to start this story arc in media res and then give us a bunch of boring and dull flashback scenes and still fail to progress the storyline by the end of this issue. Fraction fails to advance a single plotline and manages to lose any and all interest that I may have had in this story arc.

What is also alarming is that Punisher: War Journal has seemed to lose its purpose and direction. I was under the impression after the first couple of issues that the point of this title was to unleash Punisher on the world of the super criminals. In order to differentiate Punisher: War Journal from its Max title counterpart, that this title would be less realistic with the Punisher using plenty of wild weaponry and taking his one man urban war on crime to the costumed villains of New York.

Instead, we get this current story arc which is meandering and veers sharply off the path that I thought we were going to be going down after the first couple of issues. I was looking forward to Punisher taking on the costumed street criminals in New York while trying to evade Bridge. Instead, the Bridge plotline is gone and Punisher is off in the desert dealing with a political international issue involving the Hate-Monger.

It appears that Fraction wants to integrate the death of Captain America into this title. And I can’t say that I’m all that thrilled with that idea. I have never associated the Punisher with Captain America. And the little bit of story that we got during Civil War wasn’t enough for me to buy into some big relationship and connection between these two characters.

And I definitely am not into Punisher assuming any type of Captain America inspired role. I find that so incredibly lame. The entire scene with Hate-Monger dressing Punisher in a variation of Captain America’s costume and trying to draw comparisons between Punisher and Captain America was a huge miss with me. I found it to be totally out of nowhere and completely uninteresting.

Fraction cobbles together some incredibly uninspired, stiff and generic dialogue. The dialogue is dull and Fraction fails to give any of the characters a unique external voice. There is no natural flow to the dialogue. Plus, the lack of quality dialogue prevents any of the characters from generating any type of chemistry between each other.

I know that Punisher and Clarke are supposed to come off as a funny odd couple, but right now there is absolutely zero chemistry with these two characters. Fraction is just relying on the obvious differences with these two characters that one is a big ass-kicker and the other is a small science genius.

Fraction also fails to perform any type of character work. Not a single character has anything that would be confused with a personality. Frank comes across like an animated mannequin. I don’t mind him being terse and blunt, but I’d like to see a bit more character development done with Punisher than Fraction is giving us.

Batman is blunt, terse and cold, but he definitely has a well defined personality that is engaging and interesting. At this point, Frank doesn’t have any kind of personality that intrigues the reader.

And what makes this weakness with the lack of character development for the Punisher is the weak villain that we are getting with the Hate-Monger. It is imperative that a hero without much personality go up against a very colorful and engaging villain. Since Hate-Monger is such a dull, unoriginal and tiresome villain, it leaves the personality challenged Punisher the burden of carrying the issue.

Clarke doesn’t have much of a personality and I can’t say that I find Tati appealing. And this new little plotline revealing that Clark and Tati evidently have some type of history fails to engage me in any way. Since I find both characters rather boring, that pretty much means that this little plotline that they have a relationship with each other is completely without impact or interest

Fraction delivers just an idiotic ending. The ending is great if Fraction is playing for laughs, but since I know Fraction is trying to be serious, the ending is a total failure. Hate-Monger’s stupid plan to kill Punisher was so stupid that it became hilarious. I was laughing my ass off. Hate-Monger came across like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. And I don’t think that Fraction wants me to view his big mean monster villain as a joke like Dr. Evil. However, Fraction is so heavy handed with Hate-Monger’s plan that it makes him look like a total joke.

Does Hate-Monger knock out Punisher and then just put a bullet in the Punisher’s brain and move on with his master plan? No way. That would make far too much sense. Instead, Hate-Monger ties up the Punisher out in the middle of the desert and gives him a corny ran. Hate-Monger should have had a handlebar mustache that he could have twisted sinisterly while going on his rant. I was expecting Hate-Monger to end his rant with a “Mwahahaha!”

Hate-Monger decides to engage in a ridiculously over the top way to kill Punisher that would have made Dr. Evil proud. I felt like Dr. Evil’s son Scotty. I was yelling at the comic book “Just shoot him in the head!”

No, Hate-Monger has the Punisher tied up in the middle of the desert. Then Hate-Monger is going to shoot him, but not enough to kill Punisher. Just enough to bleed Punisher out. But, we aren’t done yet. Then Hate-Monger is going to feed Punisher to his sharks with lasers on their heads, I mean to his feral dogs. Oh wait, there is still more. Hate-Monger has the Punisher dressed in a variation of Captain America’s costume for this little death scene. It was just way too much.

Overall: Punisher: War Journal #7 was a truly awful issue. It was poorly paced, poorly plotted and had nothing that would be confused with quality dialogue or character development. And to top it all off, it didn’t even provide the reader with any entertaining action. Fraction totally tanked it with this issue.

At this point, I have to completely retract my endorsement of this title. With this current direction, Punisher: War Journal isn’t worth your money. There are far better titles on the market that you should be buying. Maybe Fraction can get this title back on track once this current story arc has ended.

2 Comments

  1. Hate-Monger decides than rather to just go ahead and shoot Punisher in the head right now, that Hate-Monger wants to shoot Punisher in an area so he won’t die and then watch Punisher bleed out and then feed Punisher to Hate-Monger’s dogs. But, wait there’s more. Hate-Monger wants the Punisher wearing his “super-suit” while Hate-Monger pulls off this ridiculously intricate killing.

    At this rate, the Hate Monger should just tie the Punisher to some train tracks and run him over with a locomotive, or tie him to a log that’s going to be cut in half by a buzzsaw, or any other cheesy silent movie death. The Hate Monger should also grow a mustache so that he can twirl it in a diabolical manner while laughing nefariously. A black cloak & tophat are optional 🙂

  2. Hate-Monger should have had a handlebar mustache that he could have twisted sinisterly while going on his rant.

    I see we were thinking very much along the same lines, after all 🙂

    I think that this new Hate Monger should appear in Wolverine: Origin. He’d be right at home there

    Tell me, if an issue is sooooo incredibly bad, and it also had an automatic reduction of points for breaking the Nazi Rule, could it actually receive a negative score?

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