The Punisher: Welcome to the Bayou

Punisher MAX comics are usually gory, violent and stupid enough to warrant inclusion in the Review Hole, but Welcome to the Bayou is even more so than usual. Basically, it’s The Punisher meets Deliverance. And yes, that is every bit as beautiful as it sounds.

Frank Castle (the Punisher) is travelling the Louisiana back roads. With a gang-banger all tied up in his trunk, all is well with the world. And then he stops off in Deliverance country for gas. While in the gas station, he notices a group of drunken teenagers being eyed up by the locals. Before you can say “headcheese”, the kids are kidnapped and tied up as alligator bait/rape fodder/dinner. Being the Punisher, Castle gets himself involved. The rest of the story unfolds like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. Only with added Punisher.

Following the disappointing Girls in White Dresses (good buildup – terrible waste of a good villain), Welcome to the Bayou is a great return to form for the MAX line. It’s the first time reading a Punisher arc that I didn’t miss Garth Ennis. All respect to the Ennis meister, but I don’t think this is a story he’d be particularly interested in telling. It’s a fun, gory little ditty by crime author Victor Gischler, and you certainly don’t need to have done any previous reading to enjoy it. There’s no continuity to it, and the story plays out like the most entertaining of Badass vs Cannibal Hicks movies.

The bad guys here are the Geautreaux family. They’re all paper thin character archetypes (the gorgeous loon, the demented hillbilly cousins, the muscular nutter, the demented, masked child-like crazy bloke) but that’s no bad thing in this case. The joy of it is in seeing the Punisher tear them to bits. As anyone with even a passing knowledge of the character will know, Castle specializes in city-dwelling gangster types (and, occasionally, desert-dwelling terrorist types), murdering them all to bits with a huge arsenal of guns. In Welcome to the Bayou, Castle is completely out of his comfort zone. He’s dealing with people even more fucked up than himself or Jigsaw. He’s dealing with people he can’t scare or intimidate. There’s no doubt that he’ll get out alive, but in Bayou, his journey is far weirder than he’s used to. And he has to take on much of it in his underwear.

The book is illustrated by Goran Parlov – himself no stranger to the Punisher MAX line (he also illustrated the Barracuda, Long Cold Dark and Valley Forge, Valley Forge arcs), and his style compliments the tone and the story brilliantly. There have been better Punisher illustrators, but Parlov is unmatched in depicting gory, messy and violent fight scenes; scenes which are aplenty in Welcome to the Bayou.

Maybe a love for both backwoods horror and the Punisher is neccesary if you want to love Welcome to the Bayou as much as I do. And there are a myriad of problems that still can't be ignored. There's a bit in the middle which sees a gang-banger take on narration duties, which is annoying; the baddies are dispatched too quickly; the book's far too short. Hardcore horrorheads might find it a bit predictable - there are more cliches at play here than Haylie Duff's Backwoods. But the brilliance of it all is seeing the Punisher deal with all these cliches; seeing him react to such horror as only the Punisher can.


  1. Awesome. Been a while since I dipped into the Punisher... He got iced recently, right? Bad times.

  2. He got turned into a Frankenstein's Monster. Very bad times.

  3. Nearly two years later and I only just got the relevance of the whole Frankenstein/Frankencastle thing...

    Frankencastle... Frank Castle... like, his name. Fuck me, my own stupidity never ceases to amaze me. Myself.