With a spinoff series from Daredevil on the way, it is about high time for a new Punisher book. That book was announced and planned ahead of that piece of news, but hey – a brand new Punisher book is still a pretty cool thing to have.
This book has a mixture of new and old. The new being Becky Cloonan who takes on writing the character for the first time and the old being Preacher and fan favorite Punisher artist, Steve Dillon coming back to draw Frank Castle’s bloody wrath.
Right off the bat when opening the book you can tell it’s a back to basics style and approach that quickly departs from the previous run which had Punisher out on the west coast in L.A., which I think personally worked to me in opening up the character a little more. Said look and feel becomes more evident as the book goes on and I’m happy to welcome it back since it feels authentically Punisher from the get-go.
The set-up for the issue and the series as a whole is fairly straight and right to the point in setting our characters and story in place. Once Punisher shows up, the book does speed up its pacing a bit and Cloonan settles into her groove as to how she views the character. When the book was first announced, she described him as the Jason Voorhees for criminals and that is dead on. The Punisher is a force of nature, he’s the worst nightmare ever brought to life. Cloonan expertly shows this as Punisher doesn’t even speak one word in this issue, his actions and Dillon’s art perfectly show the character’s emotions and his reaction to everything that goes on around him, especially as he wrecks a drug operation. The rampage towards the end is nicely paced and has a well-suited chaotic look and feel to it with bullets, blood, and brains flowing everywhere. The Punisher in his natural element.
It does make me curious as the next issues come out how his dialogue and speech patterns by Cloonan will be handled. For the debut here though she does deliver a completely satisfactory interpretation of the character that will not only make long time fans very happy, but for anyone new coming into this, they’ll get the gist of it rather quickly.
Aside from Punisher, the other characters introduced are right to the point in who they are and do show promise as to good development coming their way since they are all gonna be intersecting towards the direction of our main character.
I usually like to leave nostalgic feelings and the like out of reviews, but I’ll full on say that it just feels right to have Steve Dillon back drawing the Punisher. His run with Garth Ennis is still to me the definitive run for the character and his art is a huge part of it. He has a certain way about his art that makes what you read of his memorable, be it the way he draws his characters or how violent he’ll draw the action. It’s got a distinct look and feel to it that you never forget. He balances dirty and gritty with outrageous and ludicrous better than any other artist out there, the dirty and gritty in particular fitting the Punisher like a blood soaked glove wrapped around someone’s neck. Its what worked then with Ennis and its what works now with Cloonan.
His beloved style mixed with colorist Frank Martin makes things feel familiar in the best way possible. Speaking of Martin, he fits into this book and Dillon’s art well as he helps make the book suitably violent and I’m not soft selling it. There is a reason for the parental advisory label on the cover.
Another thing of note are the panel layouts that really let the book breathe and settle into the tone its developing. Particularly in the violence.
The Punisher #1 is a refreshing stroll down memory lane, while feeling like you’re walking down a different path. Everything there is to make a Punisher book is on display and with setup out of the way, it can only get better and bloodier from here.