Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Punisher #1: A Review

Well, it's finally here! A series that I have been waiting for since Marvel's ANAD line-up was announced: The Punisher. I have been a fan of The Punisher comics for a good few years now, with my first introduction to the character being the 2004 series "The Punisher" by Garth Ennis, a truly brutal, riveting read.

Let's start at the very beginning, the first thing we see of this new run: the cover.

Spooky scary Punisher
I have to say, I really like it. I mean, look at it! Of course it would depict a skull, what else would it have been? We see Frank Castle's cold eyes staring up at us, ripped over the skull, seeing red. Even if you have never heard of The Punisher before, you know full well that this will not be a story for children, y'know, if the parental warning wasn't a big enough clue.

I suppose now would be a good time to start discussing the content. First off, it just wouldn't be a Punisher comic without cold-blooded, savage murder-sprees. When the Punisher finds his target, there's no stopping him. Enhanced via a drug that "turns $# %@-ass shrimps into soldiers with one toke", a couple of guys try to take down the man himself. Ha! They must be on something to think they ever stood a chance, enhanced or not. The Punisher dispatches the pair quite brutally, which, let's be honest, is one of the prime reasons for us to read these comics, right? Though I do find it confusing why they freely depict intense gore at the same time as censoring swear-words.
We are also introduced to Face, CONDOR's second in command, a man that would've loved to meet Scott Snyder's Joker. Punisher villains do tend to have violent hobbies, but this guy really goes for it with his private collection.

In terms of story, there's not really much to say at this point. It's the usual Punisher set-up, Punisher kills, the law turns up late, drug manufacturers are evil, and questions are raised. Let's be fair though, it is only the first issue, and we cannot judge the whole story based upon one chapter. I can't say there were any moments that really stuck out to me, nothing that I'm sure to remember in the months to come, but what we were given deserves a chance to evolve into something bigger, bolder, unique. I'm genuinely looking forward to discovering more about the characters introduced here as we go on.

Moving on to the art, well, what can be said? If it wasn't for the fact Steve Dillon can only draw one face, I'd enjoy his art (and yes, I do find it amusing that there is a villain known as The Face in a comic drawn by a man who can only draw one). I don't like to bad-mouth a person's hard work, but for the sake of this review, I must offer my thoughts.

Art-style is a crucial part of comics, and Dillon's inability to vary facial features is incredibly distracting. If you're a fan of the Punisher comics, you're no doubt familiar with Dillon's design for the character; for me, well, I find it horrible. The Punisher is a man who goes around slaughtering criminals on a daily basis, I feel like Steve Dillon's design (face) is a little too cartoony for the character. Compare this with Leandro Fernández' art style for the 2004 run:
This is a page from one of my favourite arcs in the 2004 run. This is the style I love for the character.
Frank is PISSED!
Anyway, onto the more positive aspects. Aside from the facial issue, I don't actually mind Dillon's style. Sure, I may not like how he draws Frank Castle, but that isn't to say that the man cannot draw, because he clearly can. He is not afraid to offer up a healthy portion of blood and guts, which is good because, y'know, The Punisher. I have to give kudos to Dillon for the final page of #1, what a great visual to leave us on.

Overall, this issue was a good read. It could have been better, sure. Did it feel like a first issue? No, not really, but still, Ms. Cloonan is off to a promising start, and I look forward to seeing where she takes one of my favourite comic characters. I would love for Cloonan to introduce us to some truly memorable moments and adversaries that go down in Punisher history. Punisher #2 cannot come soon enough, and I hope you guys will join me in reading it and message me your thoughts.

Well, that's me done, dear readers. I hope you enjoyed reading my opinions on this propitious series. I'd like to continue writing reviews, especially for The Punisher (2016-), so I would be incredibly grateful for any feedback offered. What did you like? What didn't you like? Am I talking out of my backside?

The Punisher #1 is available now. Written by: Becky Cloonan, Art by: Steve Dillon, Cover by: Declan Shalvey.
Image Credits: Marvel Comics.

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