Monday, 29 August 2016

The Punisher #4 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 4, October 2016
Undeniably reminiscent of something from out of the “Australian dystopian action multi-media franchise” “Mad Max”, at least in the comic's awesomely incessant vehicular combat, Issue Four of “The Punisher” must surely have “totally grabbed… [its audience] right away” with Steve Dillon's graphically illustrated depiction of Frank Castle brutally battling both an armoured truck full of ‘juiced-up’ homicidal killers and a determined D.E.A. sharpshooter flying on board a ‘company’ helicopter. In fact, whilst Becky Cloonan’s narrative does momentarily focus upon “the Punisher’s former commander Olaf” visiting the Exeter Mental Hospital, the twenty-page periodical only strays ‘off-piste’ fleetingly before ramping up the action even more so, courtesy of Agent Ortiz’s pilot taking a fatal headshot and her ill-fated partner, Henderson, tumbling from their now erratic ride into the very ‘lap’ of the mercenary organisation the Administration agents were investigating…

Admittedly, not all of this title’s readers were entirely happy with such a “reboot” on account of ‘all the wordless action’ purportedly showing “the Punisher for what he really is and always has been: a two-dimensional character with really nothing to build upon.” But as Editor Jake Thomas pointed out at the time of publication, “so much of his [Castle] humanity dies with his family… [and] every now and then… you [still] see the man he used to be.” Besides, it’s arguably rather difficult to provide any significant insight into the anti-hero’s personality, even by way of an inner monologue, when he’s being repeatedly shot at by numerous semi-automatic weapons and has to deal with an overdosing wannabe ‘van-jacker’ armed with “a #@$% rocket launcher!”

In addition both the Pisa- born writer, and artist Steve Dillon, do actually manage to ‘lighten’ the ultra-violent script up occasionally with some much appreciated moments of caustic humour, such as the protagonist’s sarcastic response to nine-year old Juniper’s driving advice, the mercenary becoming so evidently awe-struck by Frank’s collection of weaponry that he momentarily forgets he’s supposedly there to kill the “decorated marine”, and Ortiz’s ‘over the top’ reaction to a deputy’s assertion that, having managed to walk away from her helicopter’s crash-landing, “everything’s all right now.” Indeed, Cloonan’s ability to intermix frantic pulse-pounding action with plenty of genuine laugh-out-loud moments is undoubtedly why some Punisher fans could not have been “any happier or prouder to see a woman take on a character [so loved]… and do him such justice.”
Writer: Becky Cloonan, Artist: Steve Dillion, and Color Artist: Frank Martin


  1. You had me at "Mad Max," Simon. I definitely think I'll be buying this when it comes out in TPB.

    1. I thought I would Bryan. Its a great series and comes recommended :-)