By Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads
What Nathan Edmondson has being doing with his own corner of the Marvel universe has been highly entertaining. Between the Punisher and Black Widow, Edmondson has taken it upon himself to prove how much fun it can be to play in the morally gray end of the pool. That fun continues, mostly, in this issue of The Punisher. Edmondson isn’t recreating the wheel here. He’s taking those qualities of the Punisher fans love and putting them on full display. We get a full dose of the anti-hero justifying putting bad guys in his crosshairs while giving neither care for his own life nor remorse for his actions. It’s just all happening in Southern California now. With all that said, this first arc does have its slight hiccups.
The Punisher picks up in the middle of a two-pronged conflict with Electro and the Del Sol gang and the Howling Commandoes. We get a full display of how powerful Electro can be, how deviant the Del Sol gang is, and a few hints about A.I.M.’s master plan. That’s really all you need to know about the plot. No new details are truly learned. While this issue shows off some great action (more on that below), this arc has been stretched to the max.
Mitch Gerads art, especially his action scenes, is great to look at. It’s visual storytelling done right. Gerads switches perspective, and panel layouts, in a unique way that is truly the strength of this issue. For example, Gerads has a page that uses the perspective of a nearby camera, and then switches to the view from Frank’s gun’s sights. The pages are colored with almost constant muted blue and green hues, which almost make the setting otherworldly. All the while, it’s planting that seed in your mind of who is lurking out there waiting for the Punisher. Electro. The villain is vivid, yet not overbearing (due to the muted hues mentioned above). Gerads adds so much energy to each and every panel.
There’s one more issue to this arc. While I can’t help but feel that might be one issue too long, the story that Edmondson and Gerads are telling has been compelling overall. Despite hitting on some common themes seen in Punisher books, this has still been a solid read from the start. This issue, even with its strengths, is the low point of the series so far. That’s a compliment, can’t wait to read the conclusion of this opening arc.