Friday, 20 January 2017

The Punisher #6 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 6, December 2016
As ‘flashback’ one-shots go, Becky Cloonan’s narrative for Issue Six of “The Punisher” must surely have made most of its 35,344-strong audience reasonably happy, with its rare, gun-toting tale of Frank Castle as a ‘young’ marine in the desert conducting “one last mission.” True, the Pisa-born writer’s somewhat sensitive, almost naïvely optimistic, portrayal of the decorated soldier takes a little getting used to, especially when Castiglione warns his colleagues that they are only to “take out” the several armed guards between them and their target if it is “necessary”. But such virtuous thoughtfulness on the part of the titular character arguably must have made a refreshing change for some readers, considering all the gratuitous carnage and mutilation which the violent vigilante had caused in this series’ preceding instalments.

Additionally, this twenty-page periodical’s script would seem to be far more about justifying Olaf’s decision to become a member of Condor and exploring just why the “group of mercenaries” appealed to Castle’s commanding officer, than actually developing the adolescent background to an “upstanding citizen” whose family were “taken from him when they were accidentally killed in a brutal mob hit.” For whilst it is Frank who performs the “sanctioned kill”, courtesy of a bullet “right between the eyes”, it is his superior who somewhat ‘cold-bloodedly’ guns down a distraught grieving mother and subsequently requires a pair of Private Military Contractors to “pop off” a few incendiary devices to cover up his disagreeable conduct; “At Condor, we look out for our own and we’re always looking for a few good men.”

Acting rather like a librarian utilising a couple of book ends, Cloonan also manages to add a little more depth to Agent Ortiz, by opening this publication’s story-line with the distraught Rocky Hill-based agent forcefully ranting at her boss for wanting her badge when she just needs “one more week” to get “the whole Condor operation”, and then closing it with the D.E.A. operative mourning her dead partner Henderson within the ruins of Exeter Asylum. Such potent scenes really add a terrific amount of gravitas to the lamenting enforcement officer, with Steve Dillon’s wonderful pencilling providing the female protagonist with plenty of instantly recognisable heart-felt emotion.
Writer: Becky Cloonan, Artist: Steve Dillion, and Color Artist: Frank Martin with Lee Duhig


  1. One thing I have been looking out for on this blog is some kind of tribute to the late, great Steve Dillon, an artist I know we both admire. Here we have what has to be one of Steve's last offerings and still no mention of his passing. Why?

    One of the best tributes I read of Steve was by Tharg in 2000AD very shortly after his death. I know that this blog is about your opinions of the comics you read but it is artists like Steve who make comic reading such an enjoyable experience. For me, the world is a sadder place without his presence but at least his artwork will live on. R.I.P. Steve. I will certainly miss you.

    1. Bryan, I've actually been waiting to get my hands on "The Punisher" #7, which was the comic poor Steve was pencilling for "Marvel Worldwide" when he died, as not only does it contain his final pages for a character he was closely associated with, but an excellent memorial to Mr Dillon in the back. As a result I plan to use my review of that comic to cover his very untimely departure.

    2. I very much look forward to reading that, Simon. Thanks for letting me know and I hope you weren't offended by my comments. They were written out of a sense of concern, not anger.

    3. No problem at all Bryan. There was obviously a bit of a delay between this comic and #7 being printed because Matt Horak had to be parachuted in to pencil the missing pages etc and do so in a style which imitates Steve. Interesting Steve clearly didn't draw them in order either, so Matt's work is interspersed with his. Hopefully it'll be worth the wait.