Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Punisher #5 - Marvel Comics

THE PUNISHER No. 5, November 2016
Gratuitously depicting Frank Castle’s lethal storming of “Condor’s main [drug] production facility, Exeter Asylum”, as well as some truly harrowing scenes of facial mutilation and bodily dismemberment, it is hard to believe that Editor Jake Thomas wasn’t quietly stood beside this title’s creative team during the scripting for Issue Five of “The Punisher” and enthusiastically encouraging them to add even more gunshots, ghastly injuries and bloodshed to its already disconcertingly violent narrative. For whilst many of this comic’s readers clearly expected the “murderous… style of hard-core, gory Punisher action that made the character a hit” back when “Gerry Conway established the character in the 1970’s”, it’s doubtful many were anticipating a storyline where the “decorated marine” dispatches his narcotic-fuelled foes by making them swallow hand-grenades, stabbing them mercilessly through the eyeball and tricking them into having their hand weapons explode in their faces; “Do it. I dare you. Barrel was jammed. Let me guess… Olaf gave you that gun? With friends like him, huh?”

Incredibly however, Becky Cloonan’s tale doesn’t simply settle for having the one-time “family man” being the sole source of her script’s over-the-top violence, with the Pisa-born writer unsettlingly managing to give Agent Ortiz her own share of grisly goings-on too. Indeed, in many ways the female D.E.A. operative’s experiences during the twenty-page long gun-battle, are even more disconcerting than “Castle’s [personal] crusade against Condor”, as she not only has to kill her literally faceless former-partner Henderson when the mentally-damaged law enforcement officer tries to strangle her to death in his painful anguish. But also rather graphically blows off the left hand of “the maniacal Face” and leaves Olaf’s rival to fend for himself deep within a facility crawling with homicidal lunatics clutching just a bloody stump. Little wonder the American author is viewed within the letters of “Publish Or Punish” as someone who “certainly manages to keep the violence up to [Garth] Ennis standards.”

Perhaps worryingly for those bibliophiles with an aversion to grotesque marring and maiming, all of these distressing discombobulations are incredibly well illustrated by Steve Dillion. The English comic book artist’s breakdowns genuinely seem to have been drawn in order to admirably allow the audience’s vivid imagination to do much of the work by leading them up to the more repugnant scenes with well-detailed graphically-populated panels, and then hiding the truly macabre sights, such as Henderson’s savage skinless face, through the clever use of ‘camera angle’ or shadow.
Writer: Becky Cloonan, Artist: Steve Dillion, and Color Artist: Frank Martin


  1. Hmm, gratuitous violence throughout? I'll give it a miss I think!

    Waits whilst Simon picks his jaw off the floor.

    Who am I kidding? Of course I won't! Sorry, Simon. I'm still up for the TPB, only more so now.

    1. LOL Bryan. I momentarily thought someone had hacked into your account but all too quickly given themselves away :-)