Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Punisher #7 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 7, February 2017
Shifting 33,589 copies in December 2016 and featuring the first instalment of Becky Cloonan’s “Into The Wild” story-arc, Issue Seven of “The Punisher” is surely best remembered not for its titular character’s bloody bar-room brawl with “a couple of out-of-towners. Nasty looking dirtrags”, but because it sadly contains some of legendary Steve Dillon’s final pages before the Bedfordshire-born artist’s untimely death a few weeks earlier. Indeed, the Englishman’s sudden absence from the comic book world is keenly felt throughout this publication, from its unintentionally fitting cover illustration by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, through to the magazine's touchingly sentimental ‘memorial page’ “Publish Or Punish”, where Editor Jake Thomas undoubtedly must have brought a knowing smile to the lips of many long-time fans by re-publishing Steve’s iconically “outrageous” drawing of “the Punisher punching a polar bear” from the limited series “The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank”.

However, it is undoubtedly Matt Horak’s passable pencils, which fill “the bulk of this issue”, that most markedly reinforces the fact that Dillon’s artwork will be “a hell of an act to follow.” True, the “designer headquartered at EarthQuaker Devices” manages to create a fair imitation of his predecessor’s instantly recognisable clean-looking artwork, especially when the “decorated marine” traverses some local woodland and Face brutally murders an entire bus load of passengers just North of Exeter Asylum. Yet for all his mimicry, it’s still evidently clear from the strangely flat-shaped noses and less disciplined sketching, that the visual exploits of Frank Castle are now in the hands of a less-able craftsperson.

In fact, as dynamic and savage as this twenty-page periodical’s ‘big fight scene’ is, with its bottlings, pool-cues, immolations and performance-enhancing drugs, it is hard not to wonder just how much better the breakdowns would have been had they been drawn by the “warm, funny, shy, welcoming guy” as opposed to someone who Thomas initially “reached out to” in order to simply “help out on a few pages.” Certainly, if the final “wonderful piece of art” Steve gave his Editor, a splash-page introducing the “nasty old piece of work” known as the Old Crone, is anything to go by, it would have been fittingly frantic and gloriously gory…
Writer: Becky Cloonan, and Artists: Steve Dillon & Matt Horak


  1. Hearing of Steve's untimely death affected me deeply. I was such a huge fan of his work. His "Curse of the Werewolf" story remains one of my all time favourite Judge Dredd stories. The world is a much sadder place without him. No doubt Matt Horak is a competent artist but he isn't Steve and he has a big pair of shoes to fill. Rest in peace, Steve.

    1. Thanks Bryan. I too was a huge fan of Steve Dillon's "Judge Dredd" stories, albeit it was his work on Joe's "City Of The Damned" epic which I enjoyed the most. Matt Horak's efforts are laudable, but it'll be interesting to see how this title sells without Steve's artwork. As an aside though, Matt doesn't take over the reigns until #9, with Laura Braga & Iolanda Zanfardino pencilling #8.