This is a pretty big week for fans of Marvel Comics. There are a number of new titles debuting this week as part of All-New Marvel Now including the highly anticipated ‘Ms. Marvel’ and ‘Loki: Agent of Asgard’. But another new book that hasn’t been talked about as much is ‘The Punisher’ #1 from Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards. Announced back at New York Comic Con at the Spider-Man panel, this new series finds Frank Castle moving away from the streets of New York City in order to bring his unique brand of justice across the country to Los Angeles. Considering that it’s been a while since the former soldier and ruthless vigilante has appeared in his own solo comic before reappearing in ‘Thunderbolts’ during Marvel NOW, it’s interesting that he pops up again at this very moment when the film rights to the character have recently reverted back to Marvel Studios.
After the first reading, my initial reaction found the first issue of ‘The Punisher’ to be pretty satisfying. It had everything that you’d expect from a book featuring this character. There were a ton of explosions, violent criminal deaths, and skulls. But the biggest thing missing was a motivation. Sure, its not too far fetched to believe that Frank traveled to LA to take down some drug cartels, but we have no sense of why or how. When we last saw him in an ongoing series, he ended up in an underwater prison. Actually, the last time I saw him, he was basically Frankenstein’s monster, which is why I dropped him from my pull list, but either way, he was left in fairly precarious positions since the last time Frank Castle roamed free. It’s possible that General Ross was the one to take him out of that situation when he formed the new Thunderbolts, but we don’t really know for sure. Now, we don’t really know for sure why Punisher transplanted himself to the west coast. The terrible winter we’ve been having this year could be the reason, but there’s no way of knowing. I’m being facetious, of course, because he obviously wants to take down these cartels, though it would be nice to know why. Normally, too much exposition is a problem in comics, but in this case, there simply isn’t enough.
Another interesting choice made in this new book is the Punisher’s look. There are definitely things that I like about it, like the slight resemblance to Thomas Jane, who happens to be my favorite cinematic version of the character, but some things about the costume were more daring choices. Over the years, Frank has moved towards a more militaristic look. The Marvel Universe as a whole is and has always been moving in a more reality-based world, but I’m not too sure about the vest he sports in this book. It makes sense for the armor to be adorned by his signature skull, but the huge pockets look like a series of fannypacks or camera bags around his torso. I know that real soldiers use apparatuses similar to this, but I think I’m more inclined to favor Frank’s look in ‘Thunderbolts’, which manages to incorporate the pockets into the skull design better. Realism is often appreciated, but the Punisher is still a superhero. I think he could choose something better than something resembling a floatation device that’s still functional to his needs.
Despite my grievances here and there, I’m certainly not disappointed by ‘The Punisher’ #1. It’s a good jumping on point for new readers, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions for long time fans. Hopefully, as the storyline continues, we get more answers because apparently there are “mind-blowing” developments on their way in this book. We’ll see if the creative team can keep me around long enough to find out what they are.
THE PUNISHER #1
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerards