"Punisher #2" Coming off a strong first issue, this is the follow up where we start to see the full scope of the new world and the characters in it. Nathan Edmondson keeps the action moving, and while I’m not as blown away as I was with issue #1 (more on that in a minute), this is an excellent book and is the strongest take on the character since Ennis in 2000.
First, The Art of Mitch Gerads is beautiful. The color themes, especially, are perfect, and synergize with the pencils in ways that can only happen with artists pulling double duty on pens and colors. First pages have the pink overtone, then the green of the night vision in the next two, finally the blues of the desert evening (which is hampered slightly by an out of place ad page), this is truly an experience, and I really, really appreciate Mitch taking the time to understand the layout as the reader will see it on the printed page and the overall effect. The quality and craftsmanship is outstanding, I hope this doesn’t overload him in the long run, but he is one of my new favorites. His anatomy and character art is excellent, too, every time I look at Frank it brings to mind Max Payne 3 and all of the excellent hard-assed whiskey soaked one liners throughout, which accentuates Edmondson’s renewed focus on giving Frank a personality. Really top quality stuff, I can’t say enough praise about Edmondson’s revival of the Mike Baron era Frank, and Mitch’s pitch perfect transfer to the page.
Few quibbles: Lots of readers are praising the new Tactical Spec Ops Operator vision of Frank Castle. Rucka started this trend a couple years back, and in a way it works, but in a way it also hurts. Let’s face it, what Frank does is impossible. In reality, there’s no way any one person alone can face down the armies that he does routinely. When the story and art accentuates the authenticity of Frank’s tactics, it also unwittingly highlights the unreality of the character, and destroys some of the Suspension of Disbelief. There’s a fine balance in there somewhere, but I don’t expect Nathan and Mitch to be slaves to authenticity.
The Hawkeye tshirt was a big mistake. It really stuck out and was very distracting, they might as well have put a giant Spider-Man head on his shirt. It didn’t fit with the character they’re building, and doesn’t really belong in this book. Some of the appeal of Punisher is that he’s a step out of sync with the greater Marvel U, putting a big reminder in there drew the reader right back out again. Plus its just silly, Frank would never buy or wear that shit, it read more like bad product placement. Along those same lines the addition of AIM and a Certain Marvel U Baddie didn’t really fit for me, I didn’t like it but didn’t hate it either, we’ll see where it goes. Personally I’d prefer they keep that shit over in Thunderbolts and the Spider-Man Team Up books, time and time again has proven that nothing blows a Punisher book off the rails faster than throwing in superheros.
Overall a very solid book. Excellent new cast of characters, build up, and execution. Hopefully the Breaking Bad-ttle Van will be making a comeback in the future (yes I had to sneak that pun back in there) loved it. Excellent book, RAW, go buy it!!
PS Variant cover pictured by Jerome Opeña.