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Frank Castle’s Vietnam Year’s Explored in Punisher MAX: The Platoon

Punisher MAX makes a triumphant return.

When it comes to adult-oriented comics, you really can’t go wrong with Punisher MAX. As it’s name suggests, the series was published by Marvel’s adults-only MAX imprint, and featured the titular murderous vigilante operating in a world free of superheroes, aliens, and any other kind of supernatural element.

Lasting from 2004-2012, the series co-existed with other Punisher comics published by Marvel’s regular imprint, which were set in the mainstream 616 Marvel Universe. Meaning that fans had a choice between seeing Frank Castle preventing super villains from taking over the world, or seeing him engage in hardcore, brutal crime stories that would make Quentin Tarantino blush. I love the mainstream Marvel Universe, but the Punisher MAX series went to heights its mainstream counterpart never could.

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The freedom of the MAX imprint meant that the series was absolutely filled with uncensored F-words, gore, sex, (including an infamous castration performed with a pair of pliers) and all manner of other nasty things which I won’t detail here. The series proved to be so popular that some of its characters, such Finn Cooley and Don Rigoletto, would also go on to be featured in season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil TV show.

Legendary writer Garth Ennis, who already had a long history with the Punisher, wrote the series up to #60 (plus a number of one-shots) before departing. It turns out that he can’t resist the lure of writing such a unique character, because he’s returned for a new MAX miniseries titled Punisher: The Platoon. Ennis’ frequent collaborator Goran Parlov provided both the covers and the interior artwork.

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Set during Castle’s time in the Vietnam War, the book will take place shortly before the events of Ennis’ earlier miniseries Punisher: Born, and will show us the first ever kill committed by the man who would go on to slaughter thousands. The miniseries was announced all the way back in 2015, so it’s certainly been a long time coming, but fans can now rejoice that it’s finally here.

Th first two issues of Punisher: The Platoon are available now, with the remaining four set to be released between late November to January. This makes it the first original comic published by the MAX imprint since Ennis’ short-lived Nick Fury MAX series ended in 2013, and with the Punisher set to bring his killing spree to Netflix later this month, the timing couldn’t be better.

I read the first issue, and it’s about as violent and sweary as you would expect from something published published under the MAX label. If you want to get in on the action, you can purchase issues of Punisher: The Platoon from ComiXology or from Marvel’s official site. Or if you prefer, you could wait for the trade paperback when it arrives next year.