|THE PUNISHER No. 8, March 2017|
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|