Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Punisher #2 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 2, August 2016
Frank Castle fans hoping for “a different take on the vigilante”, or even just some additional character development were doubtless rather disappointed by Becky Cloonan’s seemingly straightforward story for Issue Two of “The Punisher”. For whilst the one-time “upstanding citizen” is depicted deftly dispatching a good half dozen drug dealers with his impressive array of automatic firearms, the “Tokyopop” published writer’s twenty-page long narrative doesn’t actually entail anything different to what has been penned before by a number of her creative predecessors.

Indeed, with the exception of a vicious, no-nonsense fist-fight between the decorated marine and ‘spaced-out’ Face, as well as a deeply disturbing cliff-hanger that ends with a naive little girl wearing an explosive suicide vest, this “not for kids” tale of ‘the cold, calculated, self-appointed doer of justice on the road’ is depressingly unimaginative, and undoubtedly seems a wasted opportunity for a title which should have been capitalizing on actor Jon Bernthal’s “absolutely badass portrayal” as the ‘no qualms killer’ in the American 2016 web television series “Daredevil”.

Disillusionment with the overfamiliar and standard storyline aside however, the first female artist to draw the main “Batman” title for “DC Comics” has still scripted a 47,524 copy-selling comic book which proves an enthralling, if not a little bloodily disturbing, read. In fact Castle’s confrontation with Condor’s mentally unbalanced leading lieutenant is pulse-poundingly paced, with bullets “whump(ing)” into hapless corpses, lips splitting wide open and heads savagely clashing together. It’s certainly not all-too clear that the Vietnam-war veteran is winning the altercation until Face speeds away from his momentarily dazed opponent in an open-backed van; “See you soon, Frank!”

Steve Dillion’s solidly-drawn, reliable pencilling throughout this “blood-drenched deathscape” additionally adds to this magazine’s attractiveness, and actually becomes increasing integral to the series’ storytelling methodology as the Punisher dominates each and every panel without actually saying a blessed word of dialogue. Colour Artist Frank Martin’s work is also worth highlighting, even if it’s just for providing Face with some disconcertingly red eyes whilst under the psychotic influence of the strength enhancing drug EMC, and subtly suggesting, through shading, a rising swelling above Castle’s left eye after he had been head-butted in that spot.
Writer: Becky Cloonan, Artist: Steve Dillion, and Color Artist: Frank Martin

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