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Frank Castle is a hard man. One of the consequences of his brand of vigilantism is that close to none of his adversaries survive to make a comeback; usually because Frank sees to their first-class ticket to the after life and the writers do not like leaving loose ends in a story arcs.

While Garth Ennis may have introduced the moronic muscle mass known as the Russian, there has been something lacking from every PUNISHER MAX story arc -a worthy adversary. Let’s face it – there is only so many mafiaso scumbags Castle can dispose of in increasingly interesting ways. Enter Barracuda.

Barracuda is a foul-mouthed, amoral, vicious yet calculating mercenary who gives Castle a run for his money. Most of the fun in this arc is watching the dialogue between him and Castle as his foul sense of humour is the antithesis to Castle’s dry narration of events.

Ennis seldom brings Barracuda to table in this arc as the villain, instead focusing on a different kind of monster – corporate America, in the form of CEO Harry Ebbing, and his entourage of cronies, backstabbers, and trophy wife Alice, who Ennis pretty much portrays as a money-grabbing whore. The fantasy of every misogynist come true

Goran Parlov artistic direction is also commendable – skilfully capturing the darkness of the concrete jungle and the cut-throat decisions made in the boardroom.

Barracuda is a great read. Not because of the twist and turns, or that it is an amazing book, but because Frank Castle in all his years of butchery has never quite met someone who has survived him to go on to headline his own limited series.

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