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Punisher: Frank Castle Max - Six Hours to Kill [Paperback]

Duane Swierczynski , Michel LaCome
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 2 2009 Punisher Max (Quality Paper)
The Punisher always knew he'd die on the job. But he didn't know he'd have an expiration date. After busting up a slave ring in downtown Philadelphia, Frank Castle has been tricked, trapped, gassed, strapped to a table, and injected with a serum that will turn him into a 220-pound corpse by dawn - six hours from now. The people who grabbed him want him to do a simple little job and then they'll give him the antidote - simple, right? Guess again! The Punisher is nobody's errand boy! There's only one thing he wants to do before he dies: Take as many bastards as he can with him! Collects Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #66-70, and Force of Nature.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Post Ennis Punisher Max Dec 4 2010
Format:Paperback
Overlooking the blatant Crank ripoff of a plot, the story itself is somehow lacking a sense of urgency. On the plus side the "big dude who is bigger than the Punisher and throws him around with ease" isn't actually a giant unlike much of the recent volumes
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars read if you liked the ennis run Sept. 6 2009
By dishpandan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There were no reviews for this item so I wanted to give it a little publicity. Punisher MAX has been a constantly strong title and this volume continues the quality after the departure of the previous creative team. While not as over the top, it is still in the same vein and if you liked those you'll probably like this. The plot was very fast paced and original. Recommended (but not for kids -- rated R).
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Six hours to... Zzzzz. Sept. 11 2009
By Pseudobyte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having followed Garth Ennis' run on Punisher MAX since day one, I have to say that I'm not impressed with the follow-up authors and their respective story arcs. However! I am a diehard Punisher fan so I can usually find SOMETHING to like in a gritty Punisher crime story even if it's not, overall, very much good. The editorial planning with regard to following what's considered a Definitive Run by the majority of fans, on the face of things, seemed to make sense and I can't really fault Axel Alonso (MAX Editor) for hiring a mini stable of established crime authors to contribute to the title after Ennis' departure. The authors being Gregg Hurwitz, Duane Swierczynski and Victor Gischler. Six Hours To Kill being Swierczynski's story, it's worth noting that I've heard nothing but good things about his crime novels like The Wheelman, The Blonde, and Severance Package. Also, I really enjoyed his Punisher: Force Of Nature one-shot and I'm currently following Cable, which Swierczynski is also writing, so I'd like to think I have a well-rounded opinion for the most part.

Six Hours To Kill starts normally enough with Frank Castle taking a trip to Philadelphia (which I suppose is worth noting as he's usually in New York) to take down a child slavery operation when he gets blindsided by some rather ambitious yuppies. Yes, yuppies. I can't think of a better word for them really. He's drugged and told that if he kills a certain notable figure in Philly crime/politics (an unknown to Frank), he'll receive the antidote and be allowed to go on his merry way. Frank's response is to kill the slob responsible for drugging him and make the best of his remaining six hours; kill every criminal within reach he can and maybe figure out who this John Lynn Cavalier guy is that he has been sicced on. He doesn't seem all that concerned with his impending death; Frank Castle is a pragmatist after all. From here, things get a little muddy from a readers' perspective.

Like I suggested above, there were moments that I enjoyed (Frank's narration, Frank versus Russian mobsters) but I had a hard time following the parallel plotting of the villains (yuppies) that ran alongside Frank's coerced suicide run. I actually credit the artist, Michel Lacombe, more with this disconnect than Swierczynski. I had a really hard time distinguishing between various characters like Benji and Cavalier. There's also a subplot involving the Mayor and his cousin and some corrupt cops... Their motivation behind wanting Castle dead seems a little manufactured, considering (I'll get to this). Anyway, the artist. Lacombe, like Laurence Campbell (from Punisher MAX: Girls In White Dresses TPB (v. 11)) has a very dark, gritty, realistic style that suits the title but suffers from the fact that this story arc is populated by a bunch of previously unestablished characters; all of whom are just regular joes, workin' stiffs, street hoods and the like (read: unremarkable). Read in trade format, this is probably less of a problem but I read these issues in monthly installments and like I say, I had trouble remembering just who and what these people are to the story and what's worse is I found myself simply NOT caring as well.

If nothing else, I have to hand it to Swierczynski for trying to construct a complete web of interactions and reverberations and maybe if he had altered some of his pacing and reduced certain emphases on supporting characters, like Benji's sister and her bodyguard Walter (a Vietnam Vet with a SEVERE case of PTSD), it would have hung together a little better. As it is, Walter and the sister come across as some forced kink/sex appeal that is more of an obstacle to the story than added flavor or depth. Once Frank comes head-to-head with Walter (and the sister, window-dressing really), I felt like the narrative was granted the freedom it lacked up until that point. After "handling" them, the story is a bit more straight-forward but at that point it's too little, too late. As far as the subplot involving the Mayor's hitsquad of corrupt cops; I just don't see why they'd make a play against The Punisher as RETALIATION (the Mayor having tangential ties to the child slavery ring Frank disposed of in the first issue). The damage is done, what can the Mayor hope to gain by whacking Frank? It's not as though he'd function as a court witness or be able to give credible testimony in ANY capacity. Besides which, at that point the only thing the Mayor was guilty of was having a scumbag for a cousin as he was ignorant of the latter's illegal proclivities. The Mayor WASN'T on Frank's radar, is what I'm getting at. Like I say, it seemed forced and the subsequent bloodbaths in the streets of Philly only serve to distract Frank (and the reader).

So to sum up, Frank torpedoes a child trafficking ring, industrious yuppies sic The Punisher on their societal rival (Cavalier), the Mayor sends a squad of corrupt (ex)cops into the streets of Philly with carte blanche against Frank, and Frank meanwhile thumbs through his rolodex of Philly criminals and does his level best to prune their numbers (black humor here) before succumbing to the yuppie poison. Frank fights off corrupt cops, street gangs and the heavily armed Russian mafia and yet somehow manages to make his way back to the yuppies who poisoned him, all in just under six hours. Swierczynski makes reference to The Doors with Benji (arguably the "mastermind" behind poisoning Frank), the character proclaiming himself (and his sister) "The Lizard Kings" so I feel it was a missed opportunity that we didn't get to hear "No One Here Gets Out Alive" as that is a far more apt reference when it's all said and done. Frank Castle as Clint Eastwood in The Gauntlet? Not quite, although the narrative did have a confused, maze-like quality to it. Bottom line, as a Punisher fan I didn't hate the story. As an Ennis fan speaking to another Ennis fan, I wouldn't recommend this TPB though (the upcoming Punisher: Frank Castle Max - Welcome To The Bayou TPB by Goran Parlov and Victor Gischler does a far better job).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Max side of Punisher Sept. 30 2009
By Derrick O'Rourke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Pretty good read & an interesting situation to put Frank Castle in. What would he do if he only had a few hours to live? He'd do what he always does - kill bad guys! The drawbacks are that it's not as good as Ennis' Punisher and the one shot addition is only ok. What balances these out are the scenes where Frank has to be inventive to stay alive when he's drugged up. It's well worth a read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Punisher comic May 9 2013
By vincewest75 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Punisher poisoned with 6 hours to live. How do you think he'd spend those few hours? Exactly. Great story. Worth buying.
3.0 out of 5 stars A time to kill, again and again and .... May 30 2011
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On a mission to take down a child slavery ring Frank Castle inhales a poisonous gas that will kill him in 6 hours - unless he submits to the whims of his would-be killers by taking on their mission and getting the antidote in return. Castle's response is what you would expect and faced with a mere 6 hours until his death, he resolves to take down as many bad guys as he can, while he can.

I felt that neither writer nor artist were the best choices for the character. At times in the story I was a bit confused with one of the sub-plots and wasn't sure how it tied into the central blackmailing-the-Punisher storyline. Also the artist didn't help by drawing the two different characters very similarly.

What I really enjoyed was the cover art by Dave Johnson. One of these adorns the cover of the book but it's the other covers included within that really caught my attention. I loved them so much I wish that they were A2 size and framed so I could hang them on my walls. Why couldn't he have illustrated the book instead?

That said, it wasn't a terrible book. The story, once it got going, was interesting enough if a bit convoluted and, by the end, predictable. There's also a one shot story at the end of the main one which was pretty good, about the Punisher putting some scumbags out to sea and letting them kill each other. What I realised with this story was that the best Punisher stories have little involvement with Frank until the end draws near and he appears like Death to finish the remaining criminals. This comic is a good example and shows mainly the villains of the piece slowly losing their minds with Frank sitting back until the end. It makes for a more interesting and less predictable read.

This isn't the best Punisher book - if you're looking for that I suggest starting with "Welcome Back, Frank" by Garth Ennis, a writer who has done his best work with this character - but it isn't bad and has some decent art inside, mainly Dave Johnson's.
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