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How wars end
on 22 July 2011
Garth Ennis' triumphant 60 issue run on The Punisher MAX finishes with this final volume "Valley Forge, Valley Forge" in the only way it can - referencing the Vietnam war and in a hail of bullets.
The storyline that began in Vol 3 - Mother Russia, and has reared it's head every now and then such as in Vol 6 - Barracuda and Vol 9 - Long Cold Dark, is concluded here and sees this elite and corrupt group of US Generals decide to play to Frank's weakness of not harming police or army by sending a Delta Force team in to take down Frank.
This book differs from the others in that it has sections where Ennis writes prose on the Vietnam experience and peoples' experiences with Valley Forge and a young Captain Frank Castle. If prose isn't your thing when you're reading a comic book, I suggest reading "Punisher: Born" before reading this book as it's a brilliant comic book that fits in neatly between Vol 9 and Vol 10 and basically renders the prose in Vol 10 in comic book form. Even if you read the prose I recommend "Punisher: Born" because it gives the reader more background and ideas on how Frank Castle became the Punisher.
A lot of the prose sections focuses on US military history, in particular the corruption up top and how wars make businessmen rich, and how ordinary men are thrown into hellish situations and how entire countries are shaped by conflicts, in this case Vietnam. Ennis also references the current military efforts in the Middle East and eloquently gives voice to the suffering and brutality of war.
"Valley Forge" is a fine ending to an extraordinary series and may be Ennis' best work. I've enjoyed every book in the series and others written before and after by Ennis including "Welcome Back, Frank", "Punisher: Born" and "The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci" and can say that Ennis has done wonders for this character, transforming him from a 2-dimensional cut-out to a fully formed, fascinating real person, one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel Universe.
"Valley Forge" rounds it out the series nicely, addressing a resolution to the main storyline of this series as well as the larger storyline of the legacy of the Vietnam War. Anyone looking for a fine comics series full of righteous violence and action galore could not do better than to check out this series, I cannot recommend it more. Frank Castle, what a legend.