The first comic book I bought was a throwaway Spider-man Identity Crisis way back when I was in primary school. But, the first comic book I bought when I was an adult was “Punisher Max” by Garth Ennis. It. Was. Incredible. It is singlehandedly responsible for bringing me back into comics. So imagine my joy when Garth Ennis came back with “Fury Max”. This was to be the triumphant return to form, the blissful carnage and ass-kicking action I so rightly deserved as a long waiting fan. Everything started out completely perfect, but this issue a niggly annoyance from the past popped back up into the frame.
Garth Ennis, I love your Nick Fury, but God, I can’t stand your Barracuda. Stop trying to sell him to me. You know what he represents? Barracuda is all of the worst parts of “The Boys”—and you know what I’m talking about. The problem is he’s excessive. Not in the sense that he has gold teeth with diamonds on them that spell out profanity—well, he does but that’s beside the point. Barracuda is what happens when a writer takes common character traits like arrogance and pride and adds an end zone touchdown dance.
This is a character that makes me mad—not like a villain who does something despicable and you want them served a cold dish of justice. No, Barracuda is that prick that sits on the reader’s face and farts. Everything he does is a stereotype taken way too far. In this issue he slaps a man with his penis… He slaps a man with his penis… Were any of you clamoring for this? Because I know I wasn’t thinking, “Comics these days are nice but the thing that would really make them powerful stories to last the ages is a man being slapped by a man’s penis.”
The problem is that Garth Ennis seems to be actually trying to provide character development through these unnecessary high jinks. Barracuda does things that even evil people read and think, “Now what was that supposed to prove?” His penchant for doling out carnage and pain goes beyond psychosis.
At the end of the issue, we get a detailed look at the remains of a massacre. I am not a squeamish comic book reader, and thank the Lord because Garth Ennis loves gore. And I’m not talking blood and guts. Have you seen Ottley gore? Because there is some pretty gore in Invincible. I am talking poster pretty. If Bowen made a statue of the disembowelment of Conquest, I would make it the hood ornament on my car. Garth Ennis really goes for fetuses, like they’re oddly his favorite. He gets his point across but at what cost? I ask you, what cost?
Yes, this story is still amazing and I lie in a pile of extra issues every night and let the surly manliness of Nick Fury rock me to sleep. But Garth, please don’t take us down that road, that lonely, gross road that was tread long before by your previous series, “The Boys.”