Crime boss Christian Poulson set a trap to catch The Punisher, but what no one realizes is that there are now two Punishers, as Rachel Cole-Alvez, another former Marine has declared war on the mafia, after her entire family was massacred on her wedding day!  It’s Rachel that gets ensnared in Poulson’s trap.  Frank Castle attempts to help Rachel, but Poulson has rigged the room with a S.H.I.E.L.D. device that nullifies combustion, therefore making guns inoperable.  Poulson then goes after Frank with a high tech gun that doesn’t require combustion.  Their battle is interrupted by the arrival of operatives from Black Spectre, who are jabbering about Daredevil’s Omega Drive, foreshadowing next month’s crossover between DD, Punisher and Spider-Man.  The operatives surround Frank, but Rachel has come up with a plan and uses her Marine sniper training to rescue Frank.  One of the Black Spectre operatives survives and Frank interrogates her about the Omega Drive.  Frank and Rachel “bond” if you want to call it that, over coffee and he welcomes her into his world and his mission.

This book just kicks all kinds of ass!  It’s incredibly well-written.  The characters just ooze reality!  Frank Castle himself is a cypher, but everyone else has layers and layers of depth that is being peeled away ever so slowly.  Sure, it’s very gritty and violent, so if you are averse to that, this isn’t the book for you.  But honestly, I myself don’t typically like violence or the mafia genre, but this book is so impressive, I can’t help loving it.

Mirko Colak’s artwork is a tad too smooth and clean for such a grimy book, but it certainly serves its purpose.  It’s fluid and clear and dramatic.

I’m ever so slightly annoyed that next month is this crossover story, because I’m afraid of the normal rhythm of this book being interrupted!  But I suppose it’s a way to drum up additional interest in this book.  If you’re normally not into crime books like this one, don’t be afraid!  I’m normally a squeaky clean, Superman/Captain America kind of guy, but the writing on this book is so good, I can’t resist it!  Neither should you!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Mirko Colak
Cover by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Paul Mounts