|THE PUNISHER No. 3, September 2016|
Judging by the reader mail published within this comic’s letters page, Publish or Punish, Issue Three of “The Punisher” doubtless ‘knocked the socks off’ of its 46,534 strong audience in July 2016 with its graphic portrayal of murder, mutilation and mayhem. Indeed, apart from the twenty-page periodical’s opening, which portrays D.E.A. Agents Ortiz and Henderson foolishly thinking they’ve cornered the “decorated Marine” in a Vermont Motel room, Becky Cloonan’s script concerning the titular character ably handling "a country throw-down” contains little in the way of exposition except the occasional “Augh!!”, “Aaagh!” and “Hng… Hnngh…”
Fortunately Steve Dillon’s well-detailed and traditionally solid breakdowns, which at times actually depict “the Punisher like a horror movie bad guy”, are more than up to the task of telling the Pisa-born writer’s partially wordless story, and it’s clear just why some of this title’s fanbase view him as being “on “peak form here.” Patient, wary and battle-experienced, the English artist does a terrific job of building the narrative’s tension up by first illustrating Castle carefully observing his targets through a rifle scope, before the one-time “family man” remorselessly kills every single one of them.
Admittedly, a never-ending series of pictures containing brains being blown out, legs getting shot away and throats being slit, would probably prove somewhat too much even for bibliophiles delighted when “Frank doesn’t say a single word for the whole issue”. Yet cleverly Cloonan avoids just such a trap by incorporating a moment of respite from the seemingly incessant farmyard slaughter, courtesy of a brief visit to Exeter Asylum and Condor's lieutenant Face; “I’ve been expecting you. I hand-picked some good soldiers, like you requested.”
The “American comic book creator” is arguably just as good at penning cliff-hangers too. For having saved the life of little Juniper and extracted the dinosaur-obsessed girl from her (very recently departed) father’s suicide vest, many lesser wordsmiths may well have settled for the story to end on a high with the stony-faced, victorious Punisher simply driving off towards the “centre of the whole EMC operation”. Dramatically however, this publication doesn’t actually quite finish there and instead somehow manages to cram in a final three-panel sequence depicting a wide-eyed homicidal-looking Face driving a van-load of heavily armed “&$#%-ass city-boy gangsters” straight towards the anti-hero’s screeching vehicle.
|Writer: Becky Cloonan, Artist: Steve Dillion, and Color Artist: Frank Martin|