Writers: Garth Ennis
Pencils: Jacen Burrows
Inks: Guillermo Ortego
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Lettering: Rob Steen
Cover: Paolo Rivera
Release Date: February 26th, 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Baum
They say behind every successful man is a woman who’s made him that way. Frank and Valery seem to agree, as their new target isn’t Pronchenko, but his fifth (that’s right, fifth) wife. Is she just another pretty face? Or has she been pulling those newly legitimate strings all along? Let’s jump into PUNISHER: SOVIET #4 by Garth Ennis and see what’s in store this week!
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
Step 1: Open book. Step 2: Get explosion! This issue gets your attention quickly, as the very first panel explodes into a fiery wreck; complete with real body-through-the-window action! (Anyone else grow up with G.I. Joe action figure commercials?) Sucks to be that guy. I hate to see a good Escalade go to waste, but the colors are so pretty that I can live it. Turns out the driver can’t. BOOM, ROASTED! Literally and Michael Scott The Office figuratively.
Frank and his new vodka drinking, hockey-playing, Putin supporting buddy Valery set the perfect trap for this small convey, and it couldn’t make me smile more. This is the Punisher. We’re promised gratuitous, over-the-top, 80’s Stallone-movie action; and boy do we get it. Valery turns bodies to red jelly with a Gatling style assault, feeding belted rounds through the chamber in the same way I imagine he lines up and takes down shots of Stolichnaya at the bar. Frank literally SHOOTS A GUYS FOOT OFF and separates it from his leg. The poor chump lies there, soon to be doused in flames, as we pan around to see the devastation, three ruined luxury SUVs, and his foot lying there for comedic effect. It worked. I chuckled.
In what could be a very bland, paint-by-numbers interrogation scene, we actually get an interesting glimpse at the “trophy wife” who can hold her own with Frank and Valery. Witty, observant, and devilishly charming, our glimpse into Pronchenko’s wife reveals more than another pretty face. She can play the game. After some flashbacks and a curious amount of information given by their hostage, Frank realizes she’s stalling them and is being tracked. Cue two helicopters and one fewer vehicle. My tip? Stay clear of black SUVs in the Punisher’s world. Valery lays the trap, and after the chopper soldiers kindly let us know that Pronchenko’s wife is disposable, Frank takes them out from their blind side. The issue ends with our duo leading their newly motivated hostage away from the cabin with the ever-so-simple instructions of “you want to live, you do what we say”. Crystal clear, Frank!
This series seems to get better each issue and has found its’ groove nicely. The art is effective, the colors pop and subdue as needed, and the panel progression conveys action flawlessly. Even the seen-it-a hundred-times cabin interrogation scenes keep your attention and pique your interest in our new blonde friend, as it turns out she’s running the show more than people know. This story has been a breath of fresh air for Frank’s fans. Once again, my only complaint is Frank’s guyliner. But I’m certainly not going to tell him that… I happen to like my ankle attached to the rest of me.