Punisher: Soviet – Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego & Nolan Woodard (Marvel)

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Soldiers are forged in the crucible of War. While some return to the world relatively unscathed after the last shots have been fired, most never leave the battlefield.  Haunted by the horrors they’ve experienced, the conflicts in which they served shape their destiny without mercy or remorse. Soviet is the story of a man whose life, and the lives of everyone who he encounters in the aftermath of his coming home, was decided during the course of one fateful afternoon in Afghanistan.

When Russian gangsters start dying in their droves, the Punisher is, naturally, blamed. The only problem is, Frank didn’t kill them, someone else did and it isn’t long before he crosses paths with the new vigilante in town. After forming a loose alliance with his latest ally in extreme jurisprudence, Frank becomes embroiled in a barbarous conflict that eventually leads him straight to the upper echelons of political corruption. It’s a brutal, unforgiving exploration of the lasting effects, and consequences of war and the lives of the men that it ruins and leaves in its wake. And it is everything that a great Punisher story should be.

Nobody writes Frank like Garth Ennis does. He seems to understand and “get” him on a level that few writers do, and pushes him into situations that only Frank would find himself in. On the surface it’s a story about the Punisher being forced into a ferocious conflict with a Russian crime lord and his “soldiers”, but bubbling just under the unrelenting hail of bullets and body count, is a tale of the unspoken bonds that are created in the heat of battle and betrayal, loss and treachery. It’s fast, vicious and ruthless, and thanks to Jacen Burrows hyper-realistic, super detailed gore-tastic art, isn’t for the faint of heart. Like I said, Soviet is everything that a great Punisher should be. Welcome back Frank… Tim Cundle

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