Comic Book Review: Punisher: War Journal #9

The story arc involving the “All new, all racist” Hate-Monger has been nothing short of pure garbage. This just might be the worst story arc I have ever read. And I have read some bad comic books in my life. I am quite positive that Punisher: War Journal #9 is doing to be another dreadful read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

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: Thank god that the synopsis at the beginning of this issue reminds me that the Hate-Monger is still “All-new” and “All-racist.” Seriously, who in the hell comes up with this shit? Anyway, the issue begins with the present time with two unknown snipers taking out several of Hate-Mongers apparently “all-racist” Nazi-themed soldiers. (Wait, maybe it is just Hate-Monger who is “all-racist.” And check out the sweet soul patch that Hate-Monger is sporting! I never noticed that before. Nice. That moves Hate-Monger up several notches in my book.)

We then flash back to the Nazi thugs taking Punisher to their compound out in the middle of the desert. It is tastefully decorated with plenty of Nazi flags. One of the thugs even gives out a “Heil Hitler, y’all.” (BWAHAHAHA!!!! That is hilarious!!! This just keeps getting better and better! But to really get the full comedic effect you have to imagine that line being spoken with a really heavy southern drawl.)

We cut to G.W. Bridge getting a phone call asking if he is looking for the Punisher. Bridge responds that he never mentioned any name. The caller then asks that this is G. W. Bridge that he is speaking to, correct? Bridge asks who the hell he is he talking to. We see that the person on the other end of the line is Stuart Clarke. Stuart quickly hands up the phone.

We cut back to Hate-Monger’s compound. Hate-Monger greets the Punisher. Hate-Monger then makes like the Emperor to Punisher’s Darth Vader and tells Punisher to feel his hate and to use it. Hate-Monger then starts randomly spouting out “White power!” like he has Tourrette’s syndrome.

Hate-Monger comments that he modeled his new costume after Captain America’s costume. That he took Captain America’s costume just like the “Euro-Anglo-Aryan Christian white folk” is going to take back America. (Ah yes, the most hated kind of person in all of America. And what about the other white people? What about the other European people like the Spanish, Italians, Greek, Russians, etc. that are not Anglo-Aryan. Are they considered white by Hate-Monger? Oh I know, details, details. All white people are racist Anglos. Of course, Fraction is the same guy who doesn’t realize that being Mexican is not an actual race. It is an ethnicity.)

Hate-Monger jabbers on and one about the “mud-skinned” people of the world. We then cut to G. W. Bridge crossing the border into Mexico. We shift back to Hate-Monger yammering on to Punisher about oh I don’t know, flowers, sunshine, hate, you know, the usual stuff.

Hate-Monger then tells Punisher that in order to join his group of Nazis he has to go through some hazing. First a little paddling, then some cuddling, oh wait, that’s not it. The hazing consists of having to kill someone. We see a woman tied up in the middle of a small ring. It is none other than Tatiana. (Oh, admit it! You were totally surprised. Wait, you weren’t? This was a painfully transparent plot turn? Oh, yeah, I guess you are right.)

Hate-Monger tells Punisher to kill Tatiana. All the Nazi thugs cheer Punisher on to kill Tatiana. Punisher thinks how he can’t stop himself. Punisher asks for God to help him. Punisher wishes he were far away and not right here right now. We then see Punisher snap Tatiana’s neck. (Ok, now you got me. I didn’t see that coming.) Hate-Monger tells Punisher that he is now a member of the National Force.

We cut to G.W. Bridge arriving at Stuart’s hotel room. Bridge tells Stuart to fill him in on what is going on down here in Mexico. Stuart begins to tell Bridge what has been going on in the past fun filled issues of Punisher: War Journal.

We shift back to Punisher heading out with the rest of the Nazi soldiers on another search and destroy mission. Punisher brutally kills the Nazi he is riding with and puts in his really cute little part-Punisher and part-Captain America costume. Punisher then arrives at the small town where the rest of the Nazi soldiers are killing the Mexican locals. Punisher says he is going to kill all of them. That he is going to show these Nazis rage and hate.

Unfortunately, Punisher eventually gets taken down by the Nazi soldiers. Hate-Monger is disappointed that the Punisher turned on him and says that he could have loved Punisher like a son. (BWAHAHAHA!! Classic. Is Fraction trying to be funny with this storyline?) The Nazi soldiers then knock out Punisher.

We then zip back to the present. Hate-Monger demands that the two snipers show themselves. Out steps G.W. Bridge. Bridge says that he doesn’t care about the Hate-Monger. That he is here simply to arrest the Punisher by any means necessary. End of issue. (Oh dammit! You mean I have to slog through yet another issue with the “All-New, All-Racist” Hate-Monger?! I don’t know if I can take it. When will this godforsaken story arc ever end?)

Commentary
The Good: Punisher: War Journal #9 was another dreadful read. However, I have to follow The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity and mention something that I enjoyed about this title.

Luckily, Olivetti continues to supply some wonderful artwork for this title. If it weren’t for Olivetti’s richly painted artwork then reading this current story arc would have been virtually impossible.

I have to give Fraction credit for actually throwing in a plot development that wasn’t hackneyed and unoriginal. I really didn’t think that Fraction was going to have Frank snap Tatiana’s neck. That was a pretty wild scene. Fraction really pulled off a rather gripping scene that created plenty of tension in the reader.

Of course, I don’t think that Tatiana is dead. Maybe Punisher did something to her to make it look like she was dead. I just don’t think that Fraction is going to turn Frank into a guy who kills an innocent woman just to carry out his mission. That would certainly make Frank a disturbing individual, but it would run against his moral code that only criminals should die. Frank has never killed any innocent citizens, cops or military people.

The Bad: This story arc is mind numbingly slow! I don’t think that this story arc is ever going to end. And there is nothing worse than a horridly written story arc that just goes on and on forever. I mean, if Fraction was going to serve up such a miserably written story arc, he could have at least done the reader a favor and kept it extremely short. There is no reason that a weak and unoriginal story arc like this one lasts for more than two issues.

Hate-Monger is quite possibly the lamest villain in the history of comic books. A strong villain is what makes a story arc enjoyable. The heroes may be who the reader roots for, but it is the villain that makes the story interesting or not. Take Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men stories involving Magneto. They were classics because Magneto was such a grand villain. Excellent villains make for incredible stories. And on the other hand, extremely lame villains make for truly horrendous stories.

Personally, I have to have a villain that engages me somehow. Either a villain like the Joker who you just love to hate. Or a villain like Magneto that you can sympathize with and understand why he does what he does. Hate-Monger is neither of them. He is just a one-dimensional and boring character than fails to breathe any life into this flat story arc.

Fraction’s dialogue is just abysmal. It is one part cheesy, one part generic and one part hackneyed. That is definitely not the recipe for excellent well crafted dialogue. And Fraction’s dialogue is so ridiculous and over the top at points that the reader busts out laughing at the most inappropriate times. I don’t think Fraction wants us to laugh at the dialogue of the Nazi soldiers or when Hate-Monger goes on a rant.

But, you do laugh because it is so insanely campy and heavy handed. I keep imagining Bruce Campbell playing the role of Hate-Monger and delivering some to these goofy lines. I hope that Fraction is totally playing this entire story arc for laughs because it is way too cheesy and over the top to be taken seriously. But, the sad thing is that you know Fraction is not. You know that Fraction is trying to come across totally serious and in the process totally misses with this story arc.

Overall: Punisher: War Journal #9 was just a miserable read. Fraction continues to cough up one stinker after another on this title. Punisher: War Journal has found itself on The Revolution’s probation list. If Fraction doesn’t start to deliver well written issues soon then this title is going to get the dreaded axe. Unless you just have a sweet taste for white supremacist villains or are a hardcore Punisher fan, I cannot see any reason for you to waste your money on this issue.

2 Comments

  1. That’s too bad. I’m a huge fan of this artist. It sucks that he seems to get stuck with crappy writers.

  2. My bigest problem is that its pretty realistic. I live near the border, and we do get nut case one-dimensional racists ranting about mud-people fairly frequently.

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