Listen, this is straight-up ridiculous, there is no getting around it. Frank Castle rides a dragon to attack the castle fortress of a cyberpunk monster hunter and his army of samurai killers. Punisher gets chopped to shreds by Wolverine’s son Daken, then goes after him for a rematch after the Legion of Monsters implants a Bloodstone (of the Ulysses and Elsa Bloodstones) in Frank’s chest. Hell, Punisher re-focuses his mission of revenge after seeing a subterranean kid (one of Mole Man’s people) get killed. Guys, a Mole Man kid inspires the Punisher.
THAT is how crazy this comic is.
And you know what? It is straight up fun. Now, that’s an easy accomplishment when you are strong a writer as Rick Remender. Castle is always in character, even when he’s stomping around and dealing with ridiculous situations. He might be a little quippier than normal, but basically, Frank Castle acts just the way you would expect about all the madness that surrounds him.
Now, that’s a lot easier when the art is provided by talents like Dan Brereton and Tony Moore. Moore’s work in the opening chapters on the City of Monsters instantly populates the Marvel U with a great new location AND establishes the stakes and supporting characters. I even found myself rooting for Manphibian and I don’t even know who he is! Most of all, Moore makes the monsters look like innocents. They are clearly the victims in this story, and that is made clear from panel one. Brereton handle s some flashback art when dealing with the cyberpunk hunter’s origin, and it is, of course, beautiful.
This is not a comic for fans of the gritty street level Frank Castle. Heck, even at the beginning of Remender’s run he’s fighting the Sentry, the Hood, and a host of resurrected Scourge victims. This series does have some nice angst, as Frank does some pretty awful stuff right before his first meeting with Daken. See, the Hood, thinking that if he removes the Punisher’s motivations that Castle might back off, the Hood resurrects Frank’s family. And Frank burns them alive. He makes lots of comments that it wasn’t really them, but man, this is comics. Are you sure, Frank? And wouldn’t you want to give it a minute to maybe make sure?
So yeah, Remender mixes in some pretty deep stuff with the monster-on-monster ultraviolence. The most shocking part will be that you find yourself really rooting for the monster hunters to get what they deserve. They’re pretty bad villains in a pretty GOOD comic.