Punisher #1 (Marvel)

The Punisher 001 (2016) (8 covers) (digital) (Minutemen-Spaztastic)2

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3.5/5 – A New Writer, but a Familiar Frank Castle.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

The Punisher is back with an all new number one issue, an all new writer in Becky Cloonan, and a familiar former Punisher artist in Steve Dillon. The last time we saw the Punisher was in the series that ran throughout 2014 and 2015 written by Nathan Edmondson and drawn by Mitch Gerads. I really enjoyed that run and felt as though it was a smart yet still violent take on the character that felt different from Punisher runs I’ve seen in the past. Maybe it’s the Steve Dillon art, but this first issue feels…using the same word again…familiar. Not in a bad way, but in a way that brought me back to the fan favorite Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon run from years back.

Writer Becky Cloonan introduces us to a couple of new characters in the D.E.A. and a new villain called Face that’s supervising a group of drug dealers. These dealers are readying the distribution of a new drug called EMC which gives the user a small dose of superhuman strength and resistance. As the D.E.A. gets closer to tracking these dealers down, Frank Castle gets there first and violence (a whole lot of violence) ensues. Cloonan’s Punisher has no dialogue in this issue which isn’t out of the ordinary for Frank, but like previous Ennis and Dillon runs, this lack of dialogue and thought balloons make the Punisher seem robotic and one dimensional. Again, not bad as this can actually be viewed as a strength of this character, but so far it felt like a return to a Punisher I’ve seen before as opposed to covering new ground with the character.

Steve Dillon’s art is exactly what I expected it to be. He embraces the violent script that Cloonan provides. That include dealers getting their eyes gouged out, being impaled in a “Commando” like fashion, or beaten with a cinder block. The violence is over the top and although gruesome, still has that exaggerated fun factor to it thanks to Dillon’s art where facial expressions are used to accentuate the action and outrageous kills. There are times where Dillon’s pencils seem rushed though, like in a splash page where the Punisher’s trademark costume/shirt shows no definition or musculature underneath. It stands out, but not in a good way.

Cloonan and Dillon’s Punisher isn’t all about the violence, even though there’s a LOT of violence.  Cloonan introduces a character from Frank’s past that looks as though he’ll play an important role in the overall story, but remains a mystery so far. A certain D.E.A agent looks to also have a big role in the book so hopefully the supporting cast will pick up some of the lack of depth in Frank Castle’s character as seen in this issue. I’m definitely a fan of this type of Punisher so I’ll be back for more, but at the same time I was hoping Becky Cloonan’s take on the character would have a unique twist on the character that I haven’t seen before. We’re only one issue in so I’m not giving up yet, I just hope she’s able to hook me with her Punisher before this first arc is over.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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