Writer: Garth Ennis
Pencils: Dougie Braithwaite
Inks: Bill Reinhold
Colors: Raul Trevino
Letters: Randy Gentile
Cover Art: Tim Bradstreet
Assistant Editor: Cory Sedlmeier
Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Plot: Nick Fury (S.H.I.E.L.D. director) is shown flying to New York City to pick up the "only man in the world who can do this job." The job? Going to Russia to infiltrate a Russian nuclear facility to retrieve a bio chemical weapon of mass destruction. Why? Because, if he can get this weapon, Nick Fury can get S.H.I.E.L.D. back (which, apparently was lost, however this isn't explained in the book). Nick explains to Frank that it's a suicide mission but it has to be done. Frank agrees to do the mission because Nick Fury is just about the only man he respects. The U.S. military gives Frank a partner, Frank works alone, but the partner has to come along, blah blah. You know how this goes. Once dropped into Russia, Frank's told that the "weapon" is a nuclear virus that was injected into a 6 year old girl and she was also injected with the anti virus, which is keeping her alive. The military wants the kid before the anti virus kills the virus, and once Frank and Martin (his partner assigned by the military) get caught, to prevent another cold war, the military had a safeguard in place to stage a terrorist attack on an airplane to prevent the notion of U.S. involvement. Lets not get this twisted, there's a LOT more to this story, but this is a general overview.
The Review: I absolutely LOVED the way the characters were written and how they played off of each other in this book. Nick Fury was a whisky drinkin', whore fuckin', badass. Frank was a bad ass loner. Martin was a typical military jock (as Frank said, "He looks like an action figure."). The military in this book were downright devious. It was chilling to read the plots they had taken to get their hands on this virus. I also loved how they played Frank's past into this story. His daughter died when she was 6, so Frank felt the need to protect this little girl no matter what. This becomes all to clear when Frank discovers that Martin's orders were to kill the girl in order to get the virus.
The other half of this story was Nick Fury (and S.H.I.E.L.D.) vs. the United States military. Watching Nick Fury take charge of a group of hard asses who want nothing to do with him shows just how high he is on this totem pole. Whenever they get themselves in a pickle, Nick was always there ("And next time you call me, make sure it's important. The girls I like charge $100 an hour."). The end of the story also shows how much of a badass Nick is when he's talking to Frank and Frank questions his fear of being on the U.S. shit list and Fury responds with the snarky remark, "I'm on scarier lists than their's."
The end of this story is what really makes it genius. Watching Frank protect a little girl because it's his second chance of saving his daughter brought a whole new emotion to a Punisher book. Usually you only feel fear, anger, and satisfaction... But in this book, Compassion was the overall emotion. The military discussing how they couldn't save the virus because Punisher wouldn't let anyone stick her with needles, and then Fury asking him why, and he responds with, "I told her I wouldn't let anyone else hurt her." It's something you wouldn't expect Frank to say. Especially after wiping out the entire Russian nuclear plant.
Overall: This is everything you would expect from a Punisher MAX story and SO much more. Frank Castle and Nick Fury make an amazing team and the Russians make such an amazing enemy... They should've done a spin off on this story alone. It is, BY FAR, my favorite Marvel story, and will be placed in my top 5 comics of all time.
Rating: A. Solid story. Amazing art.
Until next time comic fans, I'm comicbookguymark87. See 'ya.