Are you ready to go on a “Suicide Run?” Of course, you are! Your guide is none other than everyone’s favorite vigilante, Frank Castle, A.K.A. The Punisher. Suicide Run is an impressive story that collects eleven issues, and spans across three different Punisher titles: The Punisher, Punisher War Journal, and Punisher War Zone.
Suicide Run is far from your average, run-of-the-mill Punisher story. The tale begins when The Punisher is tipped off to a massive gathering of mob bosses holding a meeting inside a skyscraper in Manhattan. The Punisher crashes the party and after an intense firefight, Castle ends the battle by detonating explosives packed inside a wine truck that he managed to park inside the parking garage, bringing down the entire skyscraper killing everyone inside, including *gasp* The Punisher himself!?
The entire state of New York believes The Punisher is dead. Waves of emotions wash over not only the citizens of NY, but also the police, surviving members of the gangs, a rogue officer of the anti-crime unit V.I.G.I.L., and a select few that take it upon themselves to pick up where The Punisher left off. The killers that want to don the skull are the heart of the story and displays how much of an impression The Punisher made on these certain individuals.
The ones that choose to fill The Punisher’s shoes are a cauldron of misfits including a skull-masked hitman, a postal worker, a jaded cop, a media savvy author, and a British bloke that hears the news all the way in England, only to jump on a plane to make his way to the states. In the midst of taking on the task of crime fighting, they also encounter each other and Blackwell, the rogue officer of V.I.G.I.L. But is The Punisher really dead?
That is the main question throughout the story. There was a body, but there was no head. Could that really have been The Punisher buried in the skyscraper’s rubble or is he still out running the streets killing his adversaries? Each person that chooses to wear the skull has their motive in doing so. Some are positive, and some are for personal gain, as well as fame and notoriety. But each one also learns the ramifications of pretending to be The Punisher and witness firsthand the extremes his enemies will go through in efforts to end his life.
Let’s talk about the heavy hitters that teamed up to make this dynamic story happen. Larry Hama, Chuck Dixon, and Steve Grant did the scripting, while Hugh Haynes, John Buscema, and Gary Kwapisz penciled the artwork. Combined they craft an epic Punisher story. And believe me, I don’t use the word “epic” lightly. The story was created in the 80’s and is clearly inspired by 80’s action films, which means Suicide Run never runs short of the violence. Some of it is downright brutal, though it doesn’t come close to the brutality that we have seen in the future MAX titles. Some of the scripting is a bit cheesier than I prefer but considering the era, I suppose it’s acceptable to read The Punisher explain in detail his preference of equipment while shooting it out with the gang members. But it is definitely something that I don’t think would work today in present stories.
Suicide Run also contains some bonus features. Each chapter is separated by a reproduction of the original run’s cover art. There were some sharply drawn covers created for this arc! Also included is The Punisher Anniversary Special, a Punisher Gallery of more outstanding artwork, and a Hot Sheets page.
If you are a Punisher fan, then there is no excuse not to pick this up. Even if you own the single issues (as I do) the extra material is a nice bonus to have. Plus, the cover is so damn sexy! If you are a newer Punisher fan, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not reading this pulse-pounding excerpt of Frank Castle’s life. Suicide Run is well worth the price Marvel is asking for, as this is one the best Punisher stories ever written. Clear out space on your shelf for this fine graphic novel!