Wow.  I did not see this coming!

The Punisher, Frank Castle, continues avenging the wedding party massacre from issue #1, with cold efficiency.  His quest takes him to upstate rural New York.  But as of this issue, there’s another player in this game, as surviving bride Rachel Alves – like Castle, a retired Marine – has decided to take a direct route in obtaining justice for the deaths of her husband, friends and family.  After secretly swiping some information from reporter Norah Winters, Rachel also heads upstate and with Castle-like efficiency, exacts her revenge.  This issue climaxes with these two Punishers coming face-to-face!

I continue being simply delighted by this book!  I have never been into the violent vigilante characters, but this book just does everything right!  It’s fantastically written!  I could easily see this series being adapted to television on HBO or Showtime.  (In fact, this book reads like a more serious version of ‘Dexter!’ )  The pacing is excellent, with the shifts between Frank’s mission and Rachel’s.  The dialogue is crisp and natural, not that either Frank nor Rachel speaks much. But what dialogue there is, is great!

The very twist of having Rachel become a Punisher on her own… I mean, it’s so obvious now!  They’re both former Marines whose families were murdered by mobsters.  Rachel has the same training Frank had!  When she steps into the role, she’s a natural!  She takes these criminals down with the same well-thought-out efficiency as Frank does and she’s just starting out!  It was just such a cool idea that I was sideswiped by!  So excellent job there!

The art is equally fantastic!  It’s so dramatic, it’s like watching a movie!  Just excellent story telling.  The snow effects are great!  I assume that’s due to color artist Matt Hollingsworth.  There are some other neat special effects, which may be due to Hollingsworth or maybe the regular artists, Matthew Southworth and Matthew Clark.  Either way, there are some really innovative techniques in this book!  Not to take away from the regular art, though.  The basics are great on their own, but the effects add to the enjoyment.

I had to do a double take, when I saw the cover to this issue.  Is he really shooting two guys through the head (and other body parts)?  On the COVER?!  And it’s not censored or anything?  Wow.  Okay then.

This is just a great book and if you aren’t reading it, you’re missing out!  I never thought I’d be such a fan of ‘The Punisher’, but this book is the perfect realistic crime comic.  I’m hooked and can’t wait to see what paths Frank and Rachel will now take.  One thing I can’t help but notice, is that while in regard to a lot of the books I review for this site, one thing that bugs me is when stories are too drawn-out.  We’re six issues into this series and we’re still technically in the first story arc, yet it doesn’t bother me one bit!  I’m still enjoying every issue, twist and turn!  It’s so well written that I savor every issue, even without the “resolution” having arrived!  THAT says something!

This is one of my absolute favorite comics every month!  You really need to be reading it!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Matthew Southworth & Matthew Clark
Cover by Hitch, Neary and Mounts