The Punisher is back. He's blasting through bad guys and committing heinous acts of violence, just like we all wanted.
Becky Cloonan's take on the Punisher is wonderful. In this issue, he doesn't speak once. He's more of a force of nature, an unstoppable beast, more than anything else. Although it's the first issue of this new series, I can't think of another time, besides PUNISHER: BORN, where I've been this happy with how the character is written. I'm really interested to see his dialogue and his speech patterns in upcoming issues, but this issue really delivers a cool Punisher.
We've already mentioned the action already. The issue is brutal. Eyes get stabbed out, people get electrocuted, shot in the head, and hit with cinder blocks. This opening issue does not pull any punches. It sets the tone for the rest of the series. This is the Punisher you want to see.
Artist Steve Dillon and colorist Frank Martin play very well off each other. Many fans are used to this level of violence in a Dillon book, if they've read PREACHER, so Dillon feels right at home. He has a very distinctive style that works well for a book hanging out on the ground level. Martin's colors bring this book some life as it keeps the story from feeling a bit too dark. The panel layouts during the battle look really nice and convey a feeling of chaos and quick thinking. Dillon and Martin work well together on this book.
On the down side of things, the first 6 pages of the issue are gruelingly slow. It's a necessary evil as it introduces the reader to some of the key players in the new series and all the elements that will make up this story, but it's a pretty slow paced read while the rest of the issue moves insanely fast.
This book isn't for kids. It says so right on the cover. There's a whole lot of violence in the issue as well. What urks me (and this has no barring on the final score of the book) is that some of the dialogue gets covered up by the traditional "#$%&" symbols. Why? A guy's eyes getting poked out by Punisher's thumbs is a whole hell of a lot worse than someone saying the "F-word." I understand the hypocrisy there, since I wrote "F-word," but I don't use that type of language online. Understandably, this is most likely coming down from editorial, not from the creative team.
The Punisher has had some amazing runs in the history of the character and some stinkers. This first issue is intriguing, fun, and brutal. It has an immense amount of potential just by how Cloonan writes Punisher and everything being introduced here. The book is straightforward, and there's no funny-business, and that's what you want from a series like this. The opening of the book was a bit slow, but it's a double-edged sword as it's important information and character introduction. This was a very solid opening issue and I'm pumped to see what Cloonan, Dillon, and Martin have in store next.