Punisher #1 Review
Punisher #1 provides a fresh jumping on point for new readers. The newness in this “All-New Marvel NOW!” title is that Frank Castle now resides in Los Angeles. The story starts off with a special ops team saving what appears to be a prisoner of some unknown group in Togo. Then we come upon Frank Castle, who is brutally getting information out of some drug runners in Mexico. He means to learn to whom the drugs were going. Once he gets his intel, he kills his captive without a care. This intel leads to another person who points Frank to the cartel. Rather than sit back and discuss things, Frank decides to take a bazooka to their building and blow up his informant inside the car. The issue ends with the special ops team from the beginning, revealing themselves through their own conversation to be the Howling Commandos. Their mission: to kill Frank Castle.
This is the first comic I read by Nathan Edmondson, but he does a fine job here with Punisher. He doesn’t strive to make him all that compelling beyond his general savagery towards criminals, but it works decent enough. Frank Castle isn’t one for long talks or sharing emotions. He’s all inner monologue. He’s a puzzle that slowly reveals himself through little things he mentions to the reader. The process is actually quite fun. That’s how Edmondson handles Frank and that’s how we will, probably slowly, get to know him going forward.
The only obvious slip up by Edmondson is with the pacing. He has some jarring transitions between scenes. Frank’s monologue, in just one panel, goes from “gathering intel” to “been stuck in traffic now for 30 minutes” all in one panel. Such a transition would have made much more sense if the art suggested the passage of time, but it doesn’t. So maybe this is a lettering issue (as to where the words were placed) or an art issue (as to how the words were conveyed).
Which brings us to the artist: Mitch Gerads. This is also the first comic I have read illustrated by Gerads. His art is one of the best parts of Punisher #1. He has a minimalistic, cartoon style that reminds one of artists Chris Samnee and David Aja, who have enjoyed great recent success. Perhaps this is representative of the times and what types of art in comics are becoming the staples of the 2010s. Whereas comic book art in the 90s was known for its excesses, the 10s will likely be known for it’s minimalism.
Regardless of the era, Gerads does a wonderful job with these pages. Considering he is in control of all art duties, he inked and colored it as well. This definitely earns him great respect for Punisher #1.
I’ve never been much of a Punisher fan. He’s too unyielding in his savagery. He’s too much like Batman, just if Batman decided it was O.K. to kill criminals. I’m not sure I’m cool with that. Not all the time. But sometimes he gets rid of some bad dudes, and somewhere on a deep level, you feel like maybe, just maybe, the world is a better place because of it.
This story, so far, is really quite simple. Frank is seeking information on bad guys and a group shows up that secretly aims to kill him – not really the most compelling read. In fact, this comic is fairly straight forward, but I’m willing to give Edmondson another chance to flesh things out. And if nothing else, Punisher #1 has some killer art (no pun intended).
So in spite of its flaws, Punisher is still an enjoyable read.