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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: 'Punisher’ #1

By Don M. Ventura

Punisher #1
Marvel Comics

I hadn’t tried reading the Punisher since about 2001 when Garth Ennis was writing the character for the Marvel Knights imprint. For me, Frank Castle has always been one of those one-note characters that writers are unable to sustain for long runs.

But I found myself more than pleased with what Greg Rucka accomplished on The Punisher #1, a book that is a dark and gritty (perhaps even more so) than one could expect. The Punisher is not front and center in this inaugural issue however; he’s an angel of vengeance who appears out of nowhere to inflict a violent eye for an eye.

The book opens with carnage—there has to be to get Frank to come out of his dark corner—as a gang war violently disrupts the wedding of a doctor and his Iraq War veteran bride. Rucka (Gotham Central) is no stranger to writing crime stories and does so ably here. But this turns out to be more of a nightmare than a crime.

It’s hard to get a take on how Rucka will present Frank in future stories because this issue is more about establishing the violent world he inhabits and centers on Detective Walter Bolt, a man with the Punisher as his guardian angel. Nonetheless, this is a powerful opener with a solid back-up story that continues to flesh-out the character of Detective Bolt.

Mark Checcheto’s artwork is incredibly striking in most of this book, but it falls a little flat in others. There were a couple of missteps with the character design of Detective Clemmons. It looked as though Checcheto used Morgan Freeman as the inspiration for Clemmons which was distracting.

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