Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Punisher #1 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 1, July 2016
Penned by “the very first female writer to tackle the murderous mind-set of Frank Castle”, Issue One of “The Punisher” proves to be something of a ‘play-by-the-numbers’ publication which, despite its dynamically-worded “Marvel Worldwide” sales pitch, disappointingly depicts the former “decorated Marine… upstanding citizen, and a family man” somewhat effortlessly gunning down a run-of-the-mill illegal drugs operation. In fact the “force of cold, calculated retribution” fails to confront any opposition even slightly formidable within this magazine, except perhaps an underweight junkie, who having overdosed on the narcotic he was supposedly guarding, momentarily transforms himself from a ‘shrimp into a soldier’. However even this wide-eyed, impervious underling is eventually bested by Becky Cloonan’s incarnation of Castle, once the skull-wearing vigilante has shot the youth in the chest, gouged out both of his eyes, and finally electrocuted the hoodlum by spearing him through the torso into a high voltage electrical panel; “I don’t need eyes, I’ll smell out this piece of &*@# and bite his neck out!”

Arguably far more successful is the Pisa-born writer’s introduction of a veritable “slew of [new] characters, (both good and bad, helpful and harmful)”. Indeed within the space of just three pages, the “contemporaneity comic book luminary” has populated the Punisher’s blood-splattered world with DEA operatives Ortiz and Henderson, twin gang-members Lloyd and Luther Luckett, Condor’s right-hand man Face, and one of Frank’s former commanding officers Olaf.

Admittedly the smart-mouthed brothers unsurprisingly don’t survive longer than mid-way through the periodical. But the two law enforcement agents appear suitably frustrated by Castle’s gunplay threatening to derail their “carefully constructed case against Condor” under “a pile of dead bodies” to be worthy of future appearances as supporting cast characters. As does the drug baron’s brown-skinned lieutenant, who disconcertingly seems to be cut from the same cloth as “DC Comics” gruesome villain Dollmaker, what with his predilection for tearing off the faces of those enforcers who disappoint him and nailing them to a wall as trophies.

Sadly “Quintessential Punisher artist” Steve Dillon’s breakdowns probably aren’t all that this comic’s readers thought they should be seeing either. For despite the Englishman having previously supported “Garth Ennis’ scripts [for The Punisher] with his personality-filled pencils”, a number of his panels for this comic book appear disconcertingly one-dimensional and flat. Whilst his Frank Castle, wordlessly sporting a close-cropped crew-cut, also takes some getting used to.
The 'Action Figure' variant cover art of "THE PUNISHER" No. 1 by John Tyler Christopher


  1. I like the Punisher and have quite a few TPBs that feature him. I also like Steve Dillon. So, why do I not feel more excited about this comic? Your review, which I have no reason to question, left me feeling underwhelmed. I'll reserve judgement for now about whether to get the TPB version of this story or not.

    1. Bryan, I think you've hit the feeling on the head which I came away with having read this issue - underwhelmed. There's nothing wrong with this comic at all. But it simply doesn't click for some reason, and like you I like the Punisher and really enjoy Steve Dillon's artwork. Fingers crossed this is simply a slow(ish) start to a really cracking run. At least there's no actual swearing ;-)