The Ghosts Of Afghanistan In Punisher: Soviet #3

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead

Valery Stepanovich continues to explain his time in Afghanistan in the 1980s as part of the Red Army to the Punisher. He tells of the horrors he saw wrought upon his fellow soldiers. He tells of the ambush the Mujahideen laid out for his convoy in the forests of the country and how quickly his unit fell to ruin. He also tells of how, despite being left alone and at the mercy of the Mujahideen, he still made it out of Afghanistan alive. He also tells of the worst thing he saw in the country.

Punisher: Soviet #3 cover by Paolo Rivera
Punisher: Soviet #3 cover by Paolo Rivera

Punisher: Soviet #3 gives us more of the backstory of Valery Stepanovich. We are given the full story of his time in Afghanistan and how he and his comrades were brutally defeated by the Mujahideen.

It’s a fairly straightforward story about the horrors of war, the kind in which Garth Ennis specializes. Of course, with Ennis, you’re guaranteed to see some warped and horrific things and that is true about Punisher: Soviet #3.

Though he’s not the artist, there’s something in Ennis’ scripting that shows how unnervingly and simply a human life can end. The background of each war scene has at least one soldier standing unaware as a high-caliber round drifts through their body in a spray of viscera. It’s chilling and it’s something you see in just about every Ennis book.

Punisher: Soviet #3 art by Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego, Nolan Woodard, and letterer Rob Steen
Punisher: Soviet #3 art by Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego, Nolan Woodard, and letterer Rob Steen

Jacen Burrows once again provides excellent visual work to this venture. His seemingly simple style adds to the horror of the more brutal and violent scenes and there are many in this comic. He and Ennis have a disquieting way of making death look easy and commonplace. Guillermo Ortego contributes skillful inkwork to the book and color artist Nolan Woodard once again gives the book the perfect visual atmosphere.

Punisher: Soviet #3 gives us the full bloody story of Valery Stepanovich, his time in Afghanistan, and his grudge against Konstantin Ponchenko. It’s a brutal and gripping read and it easily earns a recommendation. Check this one out.

Punisher: Soviet #3 comes to us from writer Garth Ennis, artist Jacen Burrows, inker Guillermo Ortego, color artist Nolan Woodard, letterer Rob Steen, cover artist Paolo Rivera, and variant cover artist Michael Dowling.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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