If I had to sum up this issue in one word it would be "heavy." That's the perfect way to describe the overall tone and mood of the book; from the writing to the art. If you are into comics that are deep, gritty, action packed and weigh really heavy like a good episode of, say, 24 (remember that show?) then there's really no reason for you not to be reading THE PUNISHER on a consistent basis. Not only does Rucka capture Frank Castle's character perfectly in this issue, but he does it effortlessly. And while the interaction and team-up of Castle and Cole-Alves has been a little bit rocky, it's definitely not here. This issue, this moment, is the one these two characters have been waiting for. It's as much a reflection of Castle as a no-nonsense character as much as it is about his intellect. I thought it was great to see the Punisher outsmart his enemies, demonstrating that the character is more than just the big brute that shows up with a pair of guns -- that there's way more to what he does than just shooting people. Writer Greg Rucka sets up the story really well. The issue opens with an uneasy "calm before the storm" type of a scene, and you can literally feel the crescendo of the plot; the steady increase of the pacing; it's brilliant.
I love these two together, and this issue completely encompasses why. The Punisher doesn't often show emotion; he doesn't ever show his cards, but in this issue you can clearly see a crack in his character's armor. He feels like the two have a lot in common -- he understands the pain Alves feels and her desire for revenge. There's a great panel on the second age that reflects the way he views Alves and his understanding and empathy for the way she feels. It's a great moment.
The issue features pencils by Mico Suayan who does a fantastic job portraying the emotions of the characters -- but his pencils simply would not be the same without the skill of Matt Hollingsworth. The colors are what truly set the tone of this book; they are dark, gritty and compliment the mood of the story perfectly. Between the fantastic writing and the beautiful art, this is definitely a book everyone who loves a heavy plot and lots of action should be reading.
Nothing bad here; this is a beautiful issue.
There's a lot of violence -- something sort of expected in a Punisher comic book, but none of it feels gratuitous. It's a great, gritty and dark story that feels grounded in reality. It's very different from other Marvel books out right now. If you are looking to start reading THE PUNISHER, this might not be a bad place to start. The inside cover page does a great job briefing the reader on what's been happening, and the issue itself is very easy to follow. Oh, and I absolutely love that Frank Castle is a man of so few words; but the reader can still get a real sense for who his character is. Fantastic writing, beautifully gritty art, definitely a book I would recommend.