Written by Jonathan Mayberry
Illustrated by Laurence Campbell
Cover by Tim Bradstreet
The Punisher has always been a perfect fit for Marvel’s MAX line of comics – the adult content allowed in this imprint gives creators nearly unlimited freedom to do whatever they want with the character, with varied results. This latest Punisher one-shot has Frank Castle infiltrating a snuff film ring, and for most of the book he is forced to use methods other than guns to kill the scum he’s targeting.
The book begins with Punisher wiping out a group of thugs watching a snuff film. He spares one thug named Dirtbox, who offers to help him in return. Dirtbox leads Frank to the building where the videos are shot, a high-security skyscraper. He goes undercover as a janitor and is unable to sneak any guns in with him, which means he has to kill people “Macguyver style”, using whatever’s around him. This is an interesting angle, but some of the kills straddle the line between cool and ridiculous. If you thought Bullseye killing a guy with a paper clip in the Daredevil movie was hard to swallow, you’ll have a field day with some of the kills in this book.
“Naked Kill” is a particularly nasty Punisher story, even when judged by the standards of the MAX line. The ironically-named Jonathan Mayberry provides a disturbing amount of detail in his narration and dialogue, and Lawrence Campbell’s gritty, Alex Maleev-inspired art is the perfect counterpart to the script. I can’t really say I enjoyed this book, given the subject matter, but it was definitely effective. The scumbags get their grisly comeuppance, and Frank of course lives to kill another day. Fans of the MAX book will not be disappointed, but newcomers may need to check out some of Garth Ennis’ early trades to see if they can stomach this kind of Punisher tale.
Rating – 3 out of 5 gaping bullet wounds