I’d never read ‘The Punisher’ until this series.  Violent vigilante that goes around killing folks?  No thanks!  But Patrick, our site’s owner, asked me to check it out and thank goodness he did!  This series is EXCELLENT!

This story arc began in issue #1, when some gangsters crash a wedding reception and kill almost everyone in the hall.  One of the only survivors is the bride, Rachel Cole Alvez (Alvez being her now deceased husband’s last name), a Marine Sergeant.  Turns out, the criminals crashed the wrong party and everyone they killed was an innocent victim.  The Punisher is determined to avenge everyone involved with lethal force.  In issue #3, the criminals hire The Vulture to take him out.  The villain is nearly successful, but The Punisher manages to kill The Vulture first and escapes by the skin of his teeth, but not before sustaining some pretty brutal injuries.

What’s pretty unique about this take on ‘The Punisher’ is that the titular character is almost a supporting character in his own book.  He’s a cypher who barely speaks and has no thought bubbles.  Instead, the supporting cast seems to carry the book.  There’s police detective Walter Bolt, who received credit for taking out some terrorists, when in actuality, it was The Punisher who did the deed.  Therefore, Bolt is drafted into helping him in his mission.  Bolt is teamed with senior detective Ozzy Clemons, who is has no sympathy for The Punisher and has it out for him.  And then there’s Daily Bugle reporter, Norah Winters, who helped The Punisher flee the crime scene in the last issue.  This book seems to be more about them than The Punisher, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a great storyline, regardless!

In this issue, The Punisher takes Norah to his base, where she is taken aback by his massive armory.  As a good reporter, she begins probing, but The Punisher tells her to leave.  Norah sists down to write about him, but is unsure.  She consults with her editor, Ben Urich, who advises her to leave the story alone.  The Punisher breaks into a veterinary hospital to mend his wounds, overhears a fight outside, and acts as only he would.  Norah decides to write a different article, and is visited by Detective Clemons, who has figured out that she helped The Punisher, but she deflects his questions.

It’s a lower key issue, following issue #3, which was wall-to-wall action, focused on the aerial battle between The Punisher and The Vulture.  Writer Greg Rucka develops the supporting characters nicely, especially Norah Winters.  I’m already a Rucka fan, but this might be my favorite series I’ve read by him.  I’m not a fan of overt violence, but it works here.  It’s a necessary component of the story.  And after the brutal massacre in the first issue, you really do want The Punisher to kill these scumbags!  And he does it with such fluid efficiency it’s almost beautiful, like an art form!

Speaking of art, illustrator Marco Checchetto does a fantastic job!  His story telling is fantastic.  Very cinematic!  That’s especially appreciated in an issue where there isn’t very much action and it’s mostly people talking.  To keep that interesting and dynamic is a great accomplishment.

This book reminds me of an HBO series; it’s written for adults.  Rucka doesn’t shy away from the violence.  Plus, it just has that degree of quality.  I’m glad I didn’t pass on this series!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Marco Checchetto
Cover by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Paul Mounts