Frank Castle ditches the War Machine armor and gets back to work in his classic dirty t-shirt and leather jacket. The Punisher #1 lights the fuse of what promises to be a bloodbath for the ages.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
This is our second straight Punisher series from writer Matthew Rosenberg. He understands Frank Castle in a way that some creators (and Netflix) do not. His stories are swift tales of ultra-violence with little dialogue from our favorite skull-wearing nut-job.
Rosenberg pushes the narrative forward through the Punisher’s prey and others involved. It’s an effort that makes him more of a menacing presence, more of an unpredictable force. The less we know about what goes on in Frank Castle’s head, the better.
This post-Secret Empire tirade against Hydra in an attempt to atone for being tricked into their employ is a fun territory for the Punisher. Frank feels actual shame and the only cure is blood. It’s a compelling reason for Mr. Castle to be gunning for the many heads of Hydra–a formidable foe.
The Punisher #1 allows the artists to tell more of the story through actions and gore. When it comes to comic books, it’s generally better to show more than tell. This issue thrives by showing a lot and telling very little.
Artist Szymon Kudranski is a pretty significant step up from the art Matthew Rosenberg was getting during the Punisher: War Machine run. That being said, there are a few minor missteps.
It was an odd choice to put Baron Zemo in the sack-mask but have it pressed up against his face tight enough to see his lips for no reason. If you’re going to use photo-realistic models for your art style, try to utilize more than a couple different facial expressions. An alarming percentage of faces we see have the same scrunched, angry yelling expression. It’s especially bad when we finally see the Punisher’s face.
These few nitpicks aside, all of Frank’s carnage and violence hits hard in all the right places. The close-up shot of Frank executing someone in the reflection of a biker’s helmet is fantastic. Punisher’s design is a great return to form as well, I always prefer when Frank looks more like a greasy, blood-thirsty lunatic than a slick, studly anti-hero.
Much like Stephen Speilberg did in Jaws, colorist Antonio Fabela chooses to avoid the color red outside of the use of blood. This subtle decision makes every bit of murder that Frank Castle doles out that much more effective and shocking.
Letterer Cory Petit adds a bone-crunching punch to the action. The over-sized and loud distinctions for the large array of weapons on display and the sounds they make is delightful.
The final scene and page set up this series to be the best kind of Punisher story–a war story. With all the players set and the starting line gun having been fired, The Punisher promises to be a highly-entertaining bloodbath.