I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I am with this first issue. For me, the Punisher has always felt a bit out of sorts in the Marvel universe. Which is why the necessary introduction of the MAX label was a good differentiator. However, Punisher #1 doesn’t have that label, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t for kids. As one of the strongest mainstream anti-heroes in the genre, Frank Castle has gone through many manifestations over the years (this is the 10th Marvel series) and the question of how far can new writer Becky Cloonan take the character is one that is quickly answered.
The set-up is one that feels familiar, but it’s presented in such a way that it doesn’t feel clichéd. Frank isn’t the central focus as the story is set up. A group of criminals are about to make their move, we’re introduced to the twins and a new adversary who has a wonderful trophy collection. We are also introduced to an impressive shady character from Castle’s past.
The artwork, by Steve Dillon, impressively doesn’t hold back on the violence, it’s gritty and (for want of a better word) masculine. My only critique here is that the red of the blood is somewhat diluted by the orange tones. I think this may have been a deliberate move by colourist Frank Martin as this is not a MAX edition.
The story and the artwork really complement each other and I am excited to see where this story goes.