By Nathan Edmondson & Mitch Gerads
Only a couple of weeks ago, the All-New Marvel NOW! launch of a new Punisher book was met with quite a positive response. This book offers something a bit different from the typical Marvel title but issue #2 stuck in a few solid reminders that keep the character grounded in the same universe as the more colorful heroes.
“There is a strata of villains too dangerous for the cops but not big enough for the super heroes.” Enter the Punisher. One thing that readers really seem to be appreciating about this book is the much more grounded nature of the overall plot and characters. In this respect, along with some other minor details, Nathan Edmondson is crafting a series that feels somewhat similar to the earlier arcs of the current Hawkeye book, albeit much more mature and badass! In Punisher #2, Frank Castle continues to hunt the Dos Soles gang. This issue contains some very sincere and ‘human’ social interactions which provide a grounded and warm respite from the cold exciting action, which this issue also contains plenty of. A lot of the book almost feels vaguely reminiscent of classic 80’s and early 90’s cop films, particularly given the Los Angeles setting. While this latest installment is packed with violence and chaos, it provides a very fun read. Edmondson is doing a terrific job of building the plot, keeping one major conflict in the foreground interspersed by the more grounded interactions outside of the violence, while maintaining an ongoing plot hook with the Howling Commandos in the background which briefly creeps into the picture for a short glimpse. Finally, adding another facet of emerging Hawkeye similarities, it seems that Frank now also has a fuzzy companion of his own!
Mitch Gerads’ artwork in this series has been phenomenal so far. The visuals in Punisher #2 have a subtle minimalist sensibility, while still appearing well-detailed and quite realistic. The character features and overall designs are spot on; Frank Castle’s uniform in particular looks great, especially the awesome Punisher mask he dons during the final battle. The action is very dynamic and effective, and Gerads doesn’t hold back on the violence in this book. Furthermore, the backgrounds look wonderful when detailing the actual surroundings in each panel, while the more action-filled scenes are typically presented over a flat tone which helps to emphasize the action. Gerads also provides the colors in this book, and like the illustrations, this aspect is accomplished with masterful perfection. The bright, thick tones bring a lot of life to issue #2, while the lighting and other visual effects enhance the depth of each panel, really drawing the reader into the action.
While personally not typically a big follower of the Marvel universe, the Punisher series has been a lot of fun and is off to an amazing start. This character allows writers to tell a much more no-holds barred story, and this aspect of Frank Castle has been put to good use so far. The grounded story feels like a classic action movie with characters that actually feel like real people, and the artwork is simply incredible. Get on board with this series now while it’s still early!