"Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Marvel Comics
Originally Published as Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher #1-#4
Written by Jonathan Maberry
Illustrated by Goran Parlov
Graphic Novel released on January 5th, 2011
We've had Marvel Zombies. We've had the Punisher take on the Marvel Universe. We haven't had the Marvel Universe take on the Punisher though. Author Jonathan Maberry has come up with a spin on the character where Frank Castle is one of the last remaining heroes in a world overrun by madness and cannibalistic disease. It's a bit like I Am Legend with super heroes.
It was an average day in New York...or at least an average day for New York in the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man was fighting the Rhino all over midtown. It seemed like a regular fight and the webhead had the upper hand when the two of them knocked into Madison Square Garden during a game. The crowd went wild as they saw the fight come to a close. The Rhino was unconscious and Spidey was standing over him victorious. Then Spider-Man started to eat the Rhino. This was the first case of the disease, but it quickly spread to other heroes, villains, and people in the city and the world. Only some people proved to be immune. The Punisher was among those that escaped. Now he will not rest until the infected are dead.
The Punisher can be a tough character to write. He's basically a loaded gun. You just point him in the direction of something and shoot. Few writers have brought something unique to Frank Castle. Garth Ennis comes to mind immediately of course. Maberry manages to keep that stoic sense of right and wrong that Castle has had forever, and add monsters and all kinds of crazy shit to it without making it seem weird.
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What's really fun in this comic is seeing the distorted versions of the Marvel characters. Artist Goran Parlov turned in some great designs. There's the Thing, sitting atop the Baxter Building with a necklace made of hands and women at his feet, Iron Man, forever stuck in his armor like a statue, gathering dust and bird shit, and of course, a monstrous Spider-Man with claw-like hands and feet. There are plenty of chilling images throughout the book, each playing on the iconic look of these characters. We've spent decades seeing them as heroes, but now we see them as animals.
My only real problem with Marvel Universe vs The Punisher is that it's too short. It's just four issues. While Maberry provides enough background to tell the story, I want more. Fortunately, he's created two other tales sit in this world that I'm hoping expand upon what he's started here. This is just New York. What's going on in the rest of the world? And where are the rest of the characters?
Marvel Universe vs the Punisher is not a silly, over-the-top story like Marvel Zombies. There is very little in the way of humor here. Instead, this is a super-powered version of Omega Man with Frank Castle in place of Charlton Heston. He takes on these creatures that are smarter and faster than zombies, armed with a variety of guns, bullets, and other explosives. This is worth reading if for nothing else than to see Goran Parlov's scenes of the Punisher standing alone, surrounded by a bunch of heads on sticks, each a different famous Marvel character. It's pretty badass.