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Response to PUNISHER #1 Review

Another response to my PUNISHER #1 review:

I asked friend Alex the following question:

What's the difference between Scourge, whom Captain America and others have fought repeatedly, and the Punisher, whom Captain America and others have given a free pass?

>> None, and I think that's the point that Ennis is trying to make. The Punisher is a serial killer...end of story. <<

The point I'm making is no one's hunting Castle down and bringing him to justice. Without that element, the comic becomes a paean to serial killing.

See the FOOLKILLER maxi-series for a comic that dealt much more honestly with the idea of a vigilante killing criminals. As that series showed, no way could the Punisher or anyone in his position make valid moral distinctions. What does Frank do when a 10-year-old shoots his sister or deals drugs...kill him? Why not, if he's guilty?

If PUNISHER ever becomes an honest comic rather than a dishonest one, you'll see how exploitative Ennis's version is.

>> Yeah, that'd be a nice and tidy ending. Just like the real world, where every criminal sees justice! <<

I don't mind if criminals sometimes escape. They often do, especially in comics. But the PUNISHER comic glorifies Castle's flaunting of society's norms. No one speaks against him, no hero hunts him down, and he suffers no consequences. At least in the issues I read.

>> For what its worth, I picked up the last 2 issues of The Punisher last week, and my summation on the series as a whole is: it sucks. The writing was pretty sub-par; towards the middle of the series it really started to descend into self-parody, which doesn't really work well for a Punisher title. <<

There you go. Too bad you didn't listen when I reviewed #1. <g> You could've saved yourself $35 or so.

>> As for being a paean to serial killing, I didn't get that. Ennis' Punisher, at series end did show a shred of humanity (which I thought was a little out of place, considering his actions througout the title). <<

As I said, I didn't read the end. If Castle only showed a shred of humanity, and it was only at the end, you should "get" what I wrote based on the first three issues.

>> When you get right down to it, aren't ALL superheroes vigilantes? <<

Yes, but many are sanctioned by the law—the FF and Avengers, for instance. Others aren't sanctioned but follow a strict moral code.

Vigilantism isn't a problem per se, as long as vigilante heroes don't take the law into their own hands. Capturing criminals—i.e., making a citizen's arrest—isn't against the law. Killing them is.

>> Alan Moore, I'm sure you remember, dealt with this in Watchmem. <<

Yes, and the Comedian, Rorschach, and Dr. Manhattan all paid a price for their actions. Few of the Watchmen escaped the series unscathed.

>> And, HEY, if I remember correctly, super-industrialist Adrian Veidt got away with killing several thousand people (innocent people, at that) with his cocamamie scheme to prevent nuclear holocaust. What's up with that? Is Alan Moore promoting genocide? <<

Veidt, aka Ozymandias, was serving what he considered a higher cause. Namely, world peace. The series clearly presented his scheme as morally questionable, with several heroes opposing it. Ozymandias claimed to have felt the burden of his choice, and he had to sacrifice his big kitty, so he suffered to some degree. And Rorschach mailed his journal to the muckraking tabloid before he died, implying Ozymandias still might be caught and tried.

>> Like all good writers, Moore raises more questions than he answers. <<

Yes, exactly. Ennis failed to do that in his PUNISHER series, except perhaps in the wrongheaded #3. Issues #1-2 raised no questions whatsoever. They simply portrayed Castle reveling in his bloodthirst. Issue #3 dramatized the Punisher's beliefs cleverly, but did little or nothing to challenge his beliefs. It demonstrated the Punisher is a cold-blooded killer and Daredevil is a morally conflicted hero, which we already knew.

>> He doesn't deliver pre-wrapped moral sermons straight from the oven, like you want. <<

You don't know what I want, judging from that comment. I think WATCHMEN, with its moral ambiguity, is one of the greatest series ever. Ennis didn't deliver anything in the issues I read. They were a pure bloodbath untouched by moral qualms.

>> He challenges readers to question their own beliefs and trusts them to make their own conclusions. <<

Uh-huh, sure. Okay, point to me exactly which panel(s) in issue #1 challenged you to question your beliefs. What were the questions raised in your mind and the conclusions you reached, if any? Be specific.

>> But, you may be right. <<

Stop right there. Commit this phrase to memory. Repeat it as often as necessary.

>> Moore should be castigated for prompting some backwoods teenagers to creating an artificial alien lifeform and dumping it on the unsuspecting population of the nearest metropolitan city. Shame on you, Mr. Moore. Be more responsible, willya? <<

See above. When Moore writes an irresponsible series that fails to portray the consequences of violence, I'll castigate him too. He hasn't done it yet.

>> Exploitative? Exploitative of what? <<

Exploiting America's thirst for violence. If two people wanted to fight to the death, would you permit it? Should we put executions on prime-time television? Why or why not?

>> About the only thing Ennis is guilty of, as far as I can tell, is bilking his ready and waiting audience out of $36 for reading this lame-o series. <<

Isn't that exploitation enough?

>> I highly doubt anyone who reads it will be inspired to acts of vigilante violence over what they read <<

"The FTC report is careful not to blame violent media for specific acts of violence." Is this the 10th time I've noted this important point? The 20th? The 50th? Or does it just seem like it?

>> or that Ennis' Punisher will add to the overall 'aggressive' tendencies of our society. <<

Hm-mm. And how would you prove that claim, I wonder? Researchers haven't done many studies on violent video games or comic books, but they have studied violent movies and TV. The effects they've observed are clear.

>> Who cares if The Punisher never gets caught? <<

I do.

>> Are you saying Ennis encourages murder because he demonstrates that there are no consequences for it? <<

In part. More broadly, I'm saying he encourages aggression by showing there are few consequences to it.

>> Nobody, and I repeat NOBODY is going to use this book as a blueprint for their own bloody vigilante agenda. <<

"The FTC report is careful not to blame violent media for specific acts of violence." Is this the 11th time I've noted this important point? The 21st? The 51st? Or does it just seem like it?

>> Serial killers (REAL ones, that is) have a whole laundry list of psychoses that go far beyond any urging they could possibly receive from Mr. Ennis. <<

And I've said we should tackle all the problems, which would include mental illnesses. That would require government intervention and spending, which contradicts your libertarian philosophy of eliminating government. Therefore, I conclude you condone continued shooting sprees and other forms of mass murder.

>> Get a grip, Rob. The Punisher is nothing more than cheap, poorly written ENTERTAINMENT that will not result in anything greater than a minor footnote in the history of comics. <<

The Evidence Against Media Violence.

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