Comic Book Review: Punisher: War Journal #3: Civil War

The Revolution is quickly becoming a huge fan of Matt Fraction. Fraction has done a fantastic job on the first two issues of Punisher: War Journal. This comic book has definitely exceeded my expectations. I fully expect Punisher: War Journal #3 to be another good read. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene to Frank Castle at Camp Lejeune for basic training before he is shipped off to Vietnam. Captain America is there in Frank’s face ordering Frank to hit him. Frank refuses to do so.

We cut back to the present with Captain America punching away on the Punisher. Captain America tells the Punisher to get up. Captain America tells Luke that he was wrong to make a deal with a killer like Punisher. Captain America says that he didn’t think they had the luxury to decline the Punisher’s help.

Punisher tells Captain America to get real. That Captain America knew what he was getting with the Punisher. That Captain America needed someone to do the dirty work when the time came. And when the time came, the Punisher got it done.

We flashback to Camp Lejeune with Captain America having knocked down Frank during the training session. Captain America says that he can’t train marines if guys like Frank won’t take a swing at him. That Charlie isn’t going to pull his punches when they get over to Vietnam. Captain America asks Frank if he is chicken. Captain America says that he can tell that Frank wants to hit him but is holding back. Captain America tells Frank to explain to his fellow marines how being chicken toward Captain America doesn’t translate into turning chicken when facing Charlie.

Frank responds that he has no problem going after Charlie. Captain America throws Frank to the ground. Captain America says that Frank may respect his uniform, but if Frank won’t fight him then Captain America can’t make Frank into a lean mean killing machine.

We shift back to the present with Captain America responding to Punisher’s correct assessment of why Captain America let him on the team by punching away at the Punisher. Punisher refuses to fight back.

We flashback to Camp Lejuene with Captain America telling Frank that he was a waste of time. Captain America tells Frank’s platoon that they are dismissed. The other guys in Frank’s platoon call Frank a total fairy. That night, the other men in the platoon beat Frank while he is in his bed. Frank knew this was coming and doesn’t fight back. He doesn’t fight back for the good of the men and the good of the Corp.

The next day all the men in Frank’s platoon act like nothing happened. Frank paid his penance. We cut back to the present with Spider-Man pulling Captain America off the Punisher. Spider-Man lifts Punisher to his feet. Punisher responds that he is all right. That Captain America knows the Punisher won.

We shift to Bridge talking with Stuart Clarke. Bridge tells Clarke that eventually the Punisher will come for Clarke and shut him down. Bridge says he’ll be watching Clarke and then leaves. Clarke then goes to his closet and puts on an armored chest plate. Once outside of Clarke’s apartment, Bridge gives the order for his men to take out Clarke.

Bridge’s men storm Clarke’s apartment and Clarke uses his armored chest plate to blast himself out of his apartment window and into the office building next to his apartment building. Clarke then slips away from Bridge’s men.

We cut to the Punisher waking up in an underground armory with Clarke standing next to him. The Punisher grabs Clarke by the throat and asks what is going on. Clarke says they are in a S.H.I.E.L.D. armory and that Punisher has been unconscious for four days. Clarke has been taking care of him. Clarke says that Bridge is after the Punisher. That Clarke has been strip-mining every bit of data, equipment and tech that he could. Clarke then asks Punisher if he is ready to get to work. We see that the armory is outfitted with every type of tech and weapon possible.

We zip forward to the Punisher tracking down the Rhino. Clarke’s data gave the Punisher all types of intel against the city’s super villains including names, powers, weaknesses and present whereabouts.

We see the Punisher blasting the Rhino with a high powered gun. The blast takes down the Rhino and breaks his horns. The Punisher then puts on a big red metal gauntlet over his fist. The weapon is called a “Satan Claw.” Punisher powers up the gauntlet and punches Rhino across the street with it. The Rhino is totally incapacitated and can’t move.

The Punisher walks over to the Rhino and tells him to take a good look. The Rhino exclaims that he is the Punisher. The Rhino says that the Punisher was rumored to be dead. The Punisher orders the Rhino to tell everyone he knows that the Punisher is back.

We cut to Bridge at his Mosque frantically praying away. Bridge’s face is all bandaged up like someone seriously beat the hell out of him. Bridge asks for refuge from the evil inside of himself and in every creature in the world. Bridge repeats that “Verily my lord is on the straight path.” over and over. End of issue.

The Good: Punisher: War Journal #3 is another great read. Fraction continues to impress me with his work on this title. I wasn’t familiar with Fraction’s work before this title. With all new writers, I try and keep an open mind, but prepare myself to be unimpressed. Fraction has exceeded all of my expectations. Fraction is one seriously talented writer. I dig Fraction’s style and it reminds me of Brubaker’s style.

Marvel has a real gem on their hands with Fraction. I hope that Marvel gives him plenty work. I would absolutely love to see Fraction write Wolverine: Origins instead of Daniel Way. I think Fraction would deliver an excellent Wolverine.

Punisher: War Journal #3 is nicely paced and has an excellent flow. The transitions between the flashback scenes and the present day scenes are seamless. Fraction does an excellent job plotting this issue. Fraction also has wasted no time identifying his goal on this title, introducing the initial story arc and giving this title a clear direction. Fraction’s excellent start to Punisher: War Journal is a good example of how to kick off a new title. It is certainly the polar opposite to the dismal and pointless start over on Ghost Rider.

I dig the way that Fraction worked Captain America into Frank’s origin. The flashback scenes at Camp Lejuene were perfect. Despite the fact that the Punisher has been portrayed as a mindless psychopath, Fraction shows that Frank has his own fierce personal code of honor. Despite how violent and willing to kill Frank may be, he will simply not fight those who don’t deserve to die. Frank won’t fight Captain America, but is more than willing to go and kill Charlie.
Fraction continues this theme with Frank not fighting back when his platoon attack him while he is in bed. For the good of the platoon. For the good of the Corp. Frank won’t fight back. For Frank there are certain ideals that are larger and more important than him.

Fraction does a great job capturing the military mind set that allows a person to believe that dying for a cause is glorious. That the Corp. is more important than themselves. You get an insight into Frank’s personality that allows him to rationalize his killing criminals as completely justified. Frank is a trained killer. And when Vietnam ended he just found another war to wage.

Once again, Fraction exposes Captain America’s hypocrisy. Captain America thinks that the Punisher is nothing more than an insane psychopath. Captain America is dead wrong and he is partly to blame. Captain America let the Punisher onto his little Secret Avengers team because he needed a soldier who could take orders and do the dirty work that is needed to win a war. And that is exactly what the Punisher did.

The best part of the scenes between Captain America and the Punisher is the fact that after Captain America has punched away at the Punisher, Frank tells Spider-Man that Captain America knows the Punisher won. And he is right. Frank doesn’t fight the “good” guys. Whether they are police, S.H.I.E.L.D., or fellow soldiers in the military. On the other hand, Captain America is willing to fight anyone or any group that has a different opinion from his.

I like the combination of Clarke and the Punisher. They are such an odd couple. Clarke is an excellent plot tool to outfit the Punisher with all sorts of hi-tech equipment and weaponry. With Clarke’s invaluable help, the Punisher is more than prepared to take on any super villain that crosses his path. And the best part of it is that it takes a villain like Clarke to enable the Punisher to properly wage his war against super villains. That has got to bug the Punisher.

The final scene absolutely kicked ass. Fraction shows off that he knows how to deliver a hard-assed Punisher and can crank out some excellent action scenes. And those are two very necessary ingredients to any Punisher comic book. The Punisher was totally bad-assed just kicking the Rhino’s ass.

And with the conclusion of this scene, Fraction has the Punisher not only put the super villain community on notice, but also the reader. And that is to get ready to watch the Punisher take his war against crime to the super villain community rather than just the street criminals. I am definitely looking forward to watching the Punisher tear his way through the super villain community.

The final page of this issue was interesting. Clearly, someone seriously beat the hell out of Bridge. Bridge definitely is acting strange while he is praying to his god. I’m interested to find out what is going on with Bridge.

Olivetti delivers one great looking comic book. I really dig his detailed painted style of art. Olivetti packs plenty of emotion into each panel and certainly draws some fantastic facial expressions. Olivetti’s art increases the intensity of Fraction’s story. The panel shot of a pissed-off Punisher standing over the Rhino was just incredible and probably my favorite panel in this issue.

The Bad: I’ve got no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Punisher: War Journal #3 was another excellent read. Fraction and Olivetti are a brilliant team and are cranking out one consistently good comic book. Punisher: War Journal has far exceeded my initial expectations. If you haven’t ever read the Punisher, give this title a try. There is much more to this title than just mindless action.

3 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Punisher: War Journal #3: Civil War

  1. Just FYI, but the Cap in the flashbacks wasn’t Steve Rogers. It was just a superior officer in a Cap suit. That’s why Frank makes the ‘Santa Claus’ remark.

  2. Hey. Nice review. Except that it WASN’T Captain America training up Frank at the Marine camp — not Steve Rogers, anyway. Frank acknowledges this; that it was just someone, probably a Marine instructor, dressed up as Cap. Given that it’s public knowledge that Cap was frozen from the end of WWII until 15 years ago, Frank likely realizes the *real* Captain America is the man who recruited him in “Civil War” and the Marine instructor was dressed up as Cap as a training exercise for the platoon.

  3. Yes, but if Cap was discovered by the Avengers, that event couldn’t have happened in 1964 with the characters having barely aged by 2006.

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