The Punisher #1 Review

The Punisher #1
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Pencils: Steve Dillon
Colors: Frank Martin
Letters: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel

One of the more anticipated new additions of Netflix’s Daredevil season 2 was the introduction of Frank Castle, the Punisher played by John Bernthal.  Fortunately, The Walking Dead star didn’t disappoint and the adaptation of the character got praise from both critics and audiences alike.  So it came to the shock of no one that not just a solo Punisher Netflix series was to come but a new Punisher comic series was soon to follow.

This new chapter in the former Marine, turned criminal killer vigilante is written by Becky Cloonan and fan-favorite Punisher artist Steve Dillon.  With this installment, Cloonan becomes the only woman to be writing a Marvel title with a male lead.  Thats right, in the 70 plus different series that Marvel is currently publishing, not one of them had a solo male character book being written by someone of the opposite gender.  Surprising for the company who is normally thought of as the more progressive of the big two.

For a book titled “The Punisher”, there’s certainly a lack of the Punisher in it.  Normally, this will be a criticism but Cloonan does a clever job of not having Castle speak a word in the issue.  Rather the story is told by visuals and the supporting cast, which sounds difficult but is done effectively.  It’s nicely paced and everything that needs to be emphasized and put into context is well executed.

Despite those positives however, this comic comes off as far too standard for my taste.  Almost as if Marvel editorial told Cloonan to stick with the familiar, worrying that the new readers coming over from watching the character on Daredevil will be turned away if you gave them something different from the Netflix series.

Whats the scope, there’s a drug deal involving EMC and there’s a large shipment coming in for the supplying gang.  Unaware to them, the DEA is hot on their tails, has been surveying their activities, and are planing to raid their warehouse to bust the drug runners.  However someone else has been keeping their eye on the DEA’s operation, the Punisher.  It’s just too typical of a Punisher story and far too by the numbers.  Not being a fan of Mr. Castle I was hoping for more from this solid creative team, something different that’ll grab my excitement and invested to pick up the next issue.

Steve Dillon does a solid job of depicting an ugly looking world as his visuals definitely capture the vibe of a grim and gritty mood.  The line work is competent and all the settings and characters are proportionately correct.  However when the action scenes are taking place, the characters come off as very stilted.  There’s no flow or conveying of movement, rather everything looks very stagnate.  It’s disappointing because it’s the scene that you look forward to the most in a Punisher comic, him taking down scumbags.  Unfortunately you can’t get into it because the scene lacks mobility.

Final Verdict

The Punisher is a difficult character to write for.  Not only is it an awkward one, being that he’s just a guy with a bunch of guns who kills people in a comic book universe filled with super soldiers, mutants, aliens, and Hulks.  He’s also one that can get very tiresome when it comes to the limited stories you can write for them.  This debut issue unfortunately tries too hard to play it safe and comes off as standard and by the numbers.  The artwork works at times but when it gets to the nit and grit it fails to capture the lure of the character.  This is a comic that, despite the solid creative team, I unfortunately can’t give a recommendation on.

Score: 2 out of 5

Review by Eric Bradach

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