ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Punisher,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Punisher #1 - But Why Tho

Punisher #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Jason Aaron, art by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, colours by Dave Stewart and letters by Cory Petit. The Punisher has left New York, traveling all over the world to deliver his own brand of justice. He hunts a group called the Apostles of War but not on his own. For Frank Castle is now a part of the Hand.

The plot is excellent. The change in Frank’s usual circumstances suggests that this will be a very different plot from other Punisher series. The narrative is non-linear—Aaron uses the most recent mission as the first sign of the Punisher’s alliance with the Hand, creating confusion and drawing you in further. After that, the plot jumps backward to provide context. The action is as heavy metal and unrelenting as expected. The Hand’s inclusion is a massive surprise but that is nothing compared to the one that comes at the end of the issue.

The Punisher despises anyone evil, rarely works with anyone, and has actively massacred the Hand before. So to work with them is gripping. But Castle still remains true to form in the rest of the comic: driven and quiet. His dialogue is sparse and to the point. The most fascinating aspect of the dialogue in this comic is actually the narration. They are from the viewpoint of the High Priestess of the Hand. Theirs is a viewpoint that I have never seen directed at the Punisher, as it is posited in adoration of the man and what he does, like a new lord to worship.

The art is excellent. Azaceta provides the art for the cold open, a retelling of the massacre in the park that ended part of Punisher’s life. The lines are messy and often hard to make out but that is entirely intentional and effective. It is POV, through the eyes of Frank as he bleeds out so this choice of art style is clever. Saiz covers the rest of the book and the main story, bringing a very realistic form of line art. The faces are incredibly detailed. The violence is glorious. Much of the initial mission shows the aftermath of the Punisher’s moves, depicting blood and injury. But a later battle is fluid, fast-paced, and never shies away in showing the most brutal of injuries, with a variety of weapons being used. 

It should also be noted that with this series comes a new logo for Castle. This has likely been done due to the use of the Punisher symbol being misappropriated in real life and may be an attempt to distance the character and company from the message those who use it imply.

Castle appears to be drawn in a different way than other characters around him, putting more focus on him, but it does lead to some strange panels as well. The colour is fantastic. The most notable part is that Stewart gives much attention to the lighting within a location. This is particularly visible on the Hand Ninjas. In dark rooms, the red is more pronounced, whereas outside their uniforms have an orange look. It is impressive attention to detail from the colourist.

The lettering is easy to read, but there is a point worth mentioning. During the second battle, which is a multiple-page long fight, there is a complete lack of SFX. With the weapons used, this does lower the effectiveness and dynamism of the situation. What’s stranger is there is SFX in the earlier action scene, so the absence is apparent.

Punisher #1 feels like a fresh start. One of the most captivating parts of Frank Castle is the fact that he is unchanging. There is a permanent desire to kill, often within the same location. That crusade remains the same in this series but it is much more globe-trotting and has some incredible twists that change everything. Aaron is one of the most hardcore, intense writers in the business so is a perfect fit, and the art brings the death to life.

Punisher #1 is available where comics are sold March 9th.


Punisher #1
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TL;DR

Punisher #1 feels like a fresh start. One of the most captivating parts of Frank Castle is the fact that he is unchanging. There is a permanent desire to kill, often within the same location. That crusade remains the same in this series but it is much more globe-trotting and has some incredible twists that change everything. Aaron is one of the most hardcore, intense writers in the business so is a perfect fit, and the art brings the death to life.