Comic Book Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Marvel relaunched The Punisher with a new #1 this week with the ‘World War Frank’ arc, with previous series writer Matt Rosenberg continuing on writing duties, art from Szymon Kudranski, colours by Antonio Fabela and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Greg Smallwood (Marvel Comics)

Shady dealings have been going on between Hydra and Roxxon, and their respective leaders Baron Zemo and Dario Agger. Partnering with The Mandarin, they have been convincing or strong-arming UN members to recognise Bagalia as a sovereign nation. Presumably as a cover for further shady dealings. But a wrench in their plans has turned up in the form of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. See Frank is after bigger game than his usual gangland targets on the streets of New York, and he is set to go to war with Hydra and a whole nation.

Here Castle is as driven as ever, choosing his words carefully and only ever as a terrifying bogeyman to create maximum intimidation for his targets. While he is going after people who usually go up against Captain America or the Avengers, it’s a nice change of pace for The Punisher, And it is good to see his tactics and planning come into play to deal with that scale. Something that really bothered me in Secret Empire was the characterisation of Castle, doing things and making decisions that seemed wildly out of character and fairly stupid, so this is a welcome return to form. While the set up page indicates that this series and Rosenberg’s work on the character before takes its motivation out of the ashes of that event, it seems that is all that it is. The story here seems to be grand in scope and very entertaining, with a strong cast that I’m looking forward to seeing in action.

Art by Kudranski, Fabela and Petit (Marvel Comics)

The art from Kudranski is kinetic and dark, evoking The Punisher MAX series. There are a few moments where faces are a little inconsistent., and there are some signs or text in the art that looks like they was added as an afterthought later. But largely the issue is strong, with the explosive action given vibrant life by the colours from Fabela. The highlight however has to be the multi panelled sequence outside the lift in the Roxxon base, which was superb.

The Punisher #1 is a good start to a story with a lot of potential for fun, huge explosive action. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 7  out of 10

Comic Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up The Punisher #1 from Marvel Comics, the start of a new series written by Becky Cloonan and drawn by Steve Dillon, with colours from Frank Martin and letters from Cory Petit. The Punisher has long been one of my favourite Marvel characters (an issue of Garth Ennis’ MAX  series was one of the first single issues I ever bought), and with Cloonan writing and Dillon returning to the character for art duties, and after Castle’s turn on Daredevil Season 2, this was definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2016.

Punisher

Cover art by Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire

In the warehouse district of Brooklyn, gangsters Face and Olaf are preparing a shipment of EMC, a new drug that creates incredibly strong soldiers out of normal people. Their boss, Condor, wants the shipment ready to go tomorrow, so it’s all hands on deck. Nearby, the DEA are putting together evidence and finishing the paperwork that means they can finally take down the operation the next morning and close in on Condor. Unfortunately, that paperwork slowed them down just enough for Frank Castle to jump in line and bring his particular brand of justice down to Brooklyn.

I don’t want to go into more detail than that, you’ll have to read the book to find out the motivations and twists yourself. Which you should absolutely do. Cloonan kicks off excellently in this first issue, delivering a Frank Castle that is, as he should be, a force of nature. A boogeyman that turns up and just wrecks shop. And he does it in complete, deathly silence. Characters familiar with his work know better than to underestimate him, and the others scrabble around in a panic as they pointlessly try to take him down. The DEA are almost played for fun here, with all the work they’ve put into the case totally wasted. And the people that The Punisher has pissed off? It should be very interesting to see how they plan on taking Frank down.

Punisher page

Art by Steve Dillon & Frank Martin

Dillon’s return to drawing The Punisher is fantastic, and as an artist that has rendered some fairly gruesome violence over the years, the ‘Parental Advisory! Not For Kids!’ warning on the cover is well earned. Frank’s take down of the gang is kinetic and brutal, with some genuinely unsettling panels. But perhaps the most grisly is Face’s “trophy wall”. The colours from Martin complement Dillon’s heavy line work, with the explosive action retaining a brighter hue to contrast against the earlier shadowy and washed out scenes with The Punisher lurking before his attack.

Also that cover from Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire is insanely good.

This was a great return for The Punisher, with a tight and intriguing opening issue with great action. As forces rally themselves against Frank Castle that action is only going to intensify, and I can’t wait to see how far the book pushes or where Cloonan takes him. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digitally.

Score: 8.5 Cinder Blocks out of 10

Comic Review – Spider-Gwen #1

1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I grabbed the first issue of the new Spider-Gwen series from Marvel Comics, written by Jason Latour and with art by Robbi Rodriguez, colours by Rico Renzi and letters from Clayson Cowles. Full disclosure – I didn’t read any of the Spider-Verse event from Marvel, featuring a team up of a multitude of parallel universe Spider-People that introduced this new character, but as it was the start of a new series that exists purely because of the hugely positive fan response to her introduction and design, I thought it was worth checking out.

Spider-Gwen takes place on Earth-65 (for those who don’t know, the Earth in the “main” Marvel Universe is referred to as Earth-616). In this alternate universe, Gwen Stacy was bitten by the radioactive spider rather than Peter Parker, bestowing upon her all the abilities we recognise and leading her to take on the mantle of Spider-Woman (I don’t know why this title isn’t called Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman rather than the cutesy sounding Spider-Gwen). As usual with Marvel comics, the sort-of back story is summarised on the first page along with a brief recap. In this universe it seems Peter, striving to be special like Gwen, became the Earth-65 version of The Lizard, and died in the ensuing fight. Gwen was forced to reveal her identity to her dad, Captain Stacy, who allowed her to escape. Got it? Good.

Having returned to her universe after Spider-Verse, Gwen finds the Spider-Woman is public enemy number one, and she sets to recovering her reputation by tangling with some villains, even if they turn out to be a bit rubbish. She also avoids calls from her dad and stalks her old band, The Mary Janes, who have become instantly famous after Spider-Woman turned up at one of their shows. She then tangles with The Vulture, coating the city in childish graffiti in order to draw him out so she can turn him in to the police, but while heavily taunting him it looks like she may have underestimated him.

I may have missed the inception of this character and a little bit of the back story, but Latour writes tightly and skilfully enough for that not to really be a problem. I really liked Gwen’s character, and some of the slight differences between this universe and the normal Marvel U (I keep wanting to say “our” universe), in particular Captain Frank Castle taking over the Special Crimes Task Force. The story does feel like a bit of a continuation rather than the start of a new story, but most people would presumably be coming on following Spider-Verse. Rodriguez draws a dynamic world, with quick action and nice bold line work. Renzi makes this alternate New York really pop, with an almost dayglow colour pallet that contrasts well with Spider-Woman’s largely black and white suit. The art really helps to make this book ooze with attitude, with an almost punk-rock feel that lines up with the band story line and Gwen’s behaviour in general.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this series, but what I got was a really nice surprise. Spider-Gwen, while I’m not dying about the name, is a fun and vibrant book that is well worth picking up. Even not having read the series that spawned it, I didn’t feel too lost as I have a basic working knowledge of Spider-Man lore. If you fancy a slightly different take on web-slinging, check this interesting new female-led book out at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 8 of the Worst Arch-Nemeses out of 10