Man, the Punisher is such a clear, simple concept. I usually enjoy Punisher comics; he’s a character that almost every writer can write about for at least one story.
Some of Frank Castle’s most interesting stories are fish-out-of-water tales, and that’s sort of what Nathan Edmondson is doing in this current series. Relocating from New York to L.A., the Punisher is targeting a cartels rather than the mafia, leading to some interesting conflicts. Now, old foes like Electro are still very much a factor, but it is neat seeing Frank mix up his targets.
Putting Frank back in the jungle gets him a bit more in his comfort zone. When the Punisher faces off with a South American drug kingpin, it is mad action and ultra-violence. Most of the conflict is standard Punisher violence fantasy, but Edmondson mixes things up by teaming up the Punisher with some special forces operators. Punisher and the soldiers quickly establish a bond that proves very effective. Showing this connection between military service members is exciting and adds to Castle’s mysterious nobility. When Edmondson shows the lasting impact that the Punisher has on the two operators’ lives, it is even cooler. Punisher’s influence lives on…
Another aspect of the new setting is the ability to play Frank off new and interesting villains. Crossbones is a top-level Captain America villain, but he fits in perfectly to the Punisher’s world of grime and violence. Of course, Crossbones manages to pull out a temporary victory, but the appearance of Punisher’s old buddy Black Widow puts a stop to that.
This current Black Widow feels like a new character compared to the old shorthaired gal in the ‘90s. Unless I’m misremembering, I thought that Castle and the Widow hooked up in the olden days, but there is no chemistry between the two of them during this team up. That said, it could be that these are just two very damaged individuals incapable of showing that level of connection. Thinking about it, that’s a lot cooler of a way to think about it.
Mitchell Gerads' art is fantastic. The art is gritty, dark, and the ink almost drips off the page (like blood). I have no idea if Gerards can work in a “cleaner” style or not, but for this book, I don’t want him to do anything else. Frank’s executioner’s hood is definitely a mask, but in no way does it look like a super-hero mask. Make no mistake, this is an executioner’s hood. Crossbones, Black Widow, and Electro look a tad off-model from their standard Marvel designs, but that’s OK. They are slumming it in Frank’s world, they need to adapt to him.
This is a GOOD comic, and one of my favorite finds on the Marvel Unlimited app.