And the Civil War reviews are finally caught up again.

General Information

Title: Punisher War Journal #1-3

Author: Matt Fraction

Illustrator(s): Ariel Olivetti (artist) and Dean White (colour art)

Original Publication Date: These issues cover dated December 2006 through March 2007.

Cover Price: Each issue is cover priced $2.99 US or $3.75 Canadian.

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

The Punisher is finding that the Civil War makes it harder to do his job, so he pitches in with Captain America to accelerate a resolution.

High Point

Captain America: “So I’ve been thinking — do you really think you can be a part of the solution here? That you can just kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out?”
Punisher: “No, sir, not at all. I sort ’em out. Before I kill ’em. Seems the least I can do.”

Low Point

The inconsistent depictions of the same scenes shown in the main Civil War title. It’s not just that the scenes are extended here, but that the physical set-up of the scenes is dramatically different.

The Scores

There is some originality in that this is the only cross-over I can think of that is about heroes just trying to do what they’ve always done without picking sides. The alliance here was born of necessity, not politics. I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is excellent. It has a painted feel, and manages to still feel dynamic and active. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story isn’t that thrilling. So much of this is beefing up scenes already seen in the main Civil War title that it’s hard to maintain any kind of suspense. Some of the humour still works, but when the main events are inconsistent (Rampage lives but the other six die?) the humour just doesn’t cut it. I give it 3 out of 6.

The characterization doesn’t seem to fit with the Punisher I know, or even the Punisher presented here. It really feels liks Fraction and Millar have two different views of the character, so when Fraction is forced to incorporate Millar’s scenes, you get inconsistencies within the set. Apart from that, the Punisher I’ve become familiar with would be far too obsessed with his “mission” to joke about, or even remember the name of, Russell Johnson. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response, as I mentioned, is poor. Suspense is very lacking, and some of the jokes are misses. The inconsistencies just get in the way of the enjoyment of the issues. I give it 2 out of 6.

The flow is well done with the art alone, but the scripting of inconsistencies between the two titles undermines that as well. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, this title feels like it would have been more enjoyable had it been launched after Civil War instead of during it. The art is great, and Fraction’s take on the character feels more entertaining and likeable than the one he needs to coincide with in the main Civil War title. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Punisher: War Journal #1-3 receives 24 out of 42.

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