The Punisher: Girls in White Dresses

The Punisher: Girls in White Dresses
The Punisher Girls in White Dresses review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Max - 978-0-7851-2520-4
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9780785125204
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Action Thriller, Crime

When first introduced the Punisher was clearly based on Don Pendleton’s The Executioner, a phenomenally successful series of violent crime novels starring Mack Bolan, a Vietnam vet who took on the Mafia. Given those origins, it’s strange that it took over thirty years before a crime novelist was given the opportunity to provide their spin on the Punisher.

Gregg Hurwitz starts very promisingly. Women are being abducted from a small Mexican town, and the authorities show no interest, not even when some are returned as mutilated corpses. Anyone standing up to the abductors is killed, so the residents turn to the Punisher as a last resort. The solution is suitably grim.

Laurence Campbell treats the story cinematically, as seen on the sample art, jumping from one viewpoint to the next between panels, and using multiple long panels running from page edge to page edge. He rarely lingers through the same pair of eyes for more than a couple of panels, and rarely draws full bodies other than corpses. There isn’t much definition to the faces, and there’s no logic to the light sources, but it creates the necessary dark atmosphere, and is a method that works overall, but leaves some scenes lacking as the viewpoint switches when it ought to remain a little longer. It’s very violent, but Campbell downplays what might otherwise be gratuitous and voyeuristic.

As with the art, the plot is fudged, but it hits all the right action beats, portraying the Punisher as a remorseless killer (except for five minutes of soul-searching) as it progresses effectively with few surprises. One is right at the end, as unpleasant in its own way as anything that’s gone before.

Following Garth Ennis’ character-defining run over several years would have been a thankless task, but divorced from serialised comics, Girls in White Dresses no longer has that cross to bear. It’s workable Punisher, readable without stunning.

Girls in White Dresses can also be found with several other stories in Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Volume Five.