I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m a huge Punisher fan. Even when his various reboots and incarnations failed miserably (Angel Punisher & Frankencastle immediately come to mind), there was still hope that the original Marvel Universe Punisher title would be a good read again. Aside from the MAX series written by Ennis, I can’t remember a recent Punisher ongoing title that stands out as worth the fan’s money in quite some time.
Marvel’s pinnacle vigilante is back at it again with Greg Rucka penning the exploits of the man that is Frank Castle aka The Punisher. This issue opens with a wedding that turns into a bloody crime scene. The investigation is headed by Detectives Bolt and Clemons, but there are too many unanswered questions about the hit. Soon Clemons receives a blocked text, and it’s pretty easy to guess who it’s from. He gives up what info he has and then it’s another day at the office for The Punisher. Rucka’s main story is capped off with an interview involving Detective Bolt which sheds a little light on his relationship with The Punisher.
We are treated to a pretty solid first issue as Checchetto and Hollingworth open the story up with five great looking captionless pages. The sequence not only builds up the wedding, but we get a quick look at the Detectives who will show up later. It was also a nice touch to keep The Punisher in shadow throughout; even if you have a passing knowledge of him it was a nice way to build a bit of mystery and anticipation. My only gripe about the art was that Detective Clemons looks EXACTLY like Morgan Freeman in one panel, but has a consistently different look in every other panel of the book. I’m going to need comic artists to stop drawing all of the old black men to look like either Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson. Ultimate Nick Fury excluded, of course.
The story in this issue is a nice reintroduction to The Punisher for longtime fans as well as any newcomer to the series. This is the way The Punisher should be brought to the fans, no corny gimmicks or over the top incarnations. Just keep it simple and build on his already solid back story. Rucka seems to be on the right track here, and I’m hoping that we continue to see a grounded and gritty crime drama version of The Punisher during his run.