Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Punisher #8 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 8, March 2017
Worryingly devoid of any real “Parental Advisory” action until a good two-thirds of the way through, Issue Eight of “The Punisher” must have come of something of a disconcertingly sedentary reading experience for many of its fans when compared to the gruesome body-count depicted within some of its preceding editions. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another instalment of writer Becky Cloonan’s run on this title where every single murderous death has deplorably taken place ‘off-screen’ as opposed to being graphically illustrated within the confines of a splash page or two; “The bartender talked pretty easy. He won’t tell anyone anything ever again.” 

Arguably some of this change in the direction “Over The River And Through The Woods” takes is due to the Pisa-born American author’s exploration of “a gun-toting old crone” whom Frank Castle encounters having “barely escaped” an explosion at Exeter Asylum. Battered and bruised, yet ever the gentlemen, the titular character happily chops wood for the elderly widower in return for some kindness, hot soup, lots of stitches and a bed for the night.

True, this caringly human side to the “decorated Marine” makes a nice change from the one-time family man’s usual grim-faced blood-letting killing spree, and it’s not as if Ethel isn’t herself averse to gorily stabbing a Condor operative’s throat out with her knitting needles. But such moments of social interaction between the unlikely couple, such as when Bradford is reminded of her late husband and the Punisher fixes her Harley motorcycle, doesn’t understandably lend itself to causing too much bodily mutilation.

Disappointingly however, it isn’t just Cloonan’s desire to make Castle’s incongruous companion memorable which alters this twenty-page periodical’s tone. It is the competent, yet distinctly different, drawing styles of Laura Braga and Iolanda Zanfardino; one of whom pencils all the panels focusing upon Frank and his subsequent confrontation with Olaf, whilst the other sketches Face’s abduction of Ortiz in a rather disconcertingly cartoon-like manner which imbues the Drugs Enforcement Agent with a totally inappropriate comical gait. Neither style, perhaps intentionally, attempts to imitate the late Steve Dillon’s “unique ink line” and as a result appear genuinely inferior to the no-nonsense breakdowns the “definitive” Punisher artist would use for his storytelling.
Writer: Becky Cloonan, and Artist: Laura Braga with Iolanda Zanfardino


  1. It is clear that this series would never be the same without Steve Dillon's magnificent artwork. I'd happily buy the TPB of this series just for Steve's artwork alone. Now that he has gone I dunno what to make of it now. If you keep reviewing it, Simon, I'll very much be guided by your own thoughts. I guess it's a case of wait and see.

    1. This could well be the last one I collect, Bryan, as I bought it solely for Steve Dillon's artwork. I might give Matt Horak an issue or so to see how he copes without having to imitate Steve's work. But as I'm desperately trying to reduce my current Pull List so I can review more 'old' issues, this title seems destined to be dropped.

    2. I can't say I blame you, Simon. I would love to see you do an article where you list all the comics you buy in an average month (if there is such a thing). I'm sure my list would be a lot shorter than yours. I'd be quite happy to contribute my own list if you're interested. Alternatively, just e-mail me if you'd prefer to keep this between the two of us.

    3. Bryan, I actually run a rather large spreadsheet, which I'll happily email you :-)

    4. Received and replied to. Very much appreciated, Simon.