Written by: Becky Cloonan
Art by: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel Comics
There aren’t many characters in the Marvel universe more intriguing than Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher. While other characters have fancy superpowers, witty sidekicks, and space-capable craft, Castle has a junky van and a lot of big guns. Sure, he might be the angriest comic character around, but the Punisher also has some redeeming qualities because he only brutally murders drug dealers, mob bosses, and all around terrible people. See? He’s not all bad.
Frank Castle has had a solid run in comics, and now he is back courtesy of Becky Cloonan (The Ghost of Gotham Academy) and Steve Dillon (Preacher). This version of The Punisher is a little demented and super violent, but what else would you expect from the man in the skull t-shirt?
The Punisher #1 is set during any earlier time in Castle’s life, shortly after his family dies. Some people know about Castle, but most are either criminals or high-ranking law enforcement officers. At this point, Castle is mostly referred to in whispered conversations, and he is only called “The Punisher”. The only information given is that The Punisher is trying to stop the distribution of a new narcotic. Seems like mostly standard stuff at first, but if that were the case then this issue wouldn’t be necessary. This drug, known only as Condor, isn’t the standard narcotic, and it poses a major risk to New York. Only The Punisher can stop the drug before it’s too late. Standing in his way are some mercenaries by the name of Olaf, The Face, Lloyd Luckett, and Luther Luckett.
The Punisher #1 may be an ultra-violent, slightly demented comic, but it actually has more of a build-up than you would expect. The earliest portion of the issue is dedicated to introducing multiple new characters, some of which most likely won’t last that long into the series. Although, both Olaf and The Face seem like they could be an interesting part of The Punisher for many issues to come. Once the action starts, however, The Punisher doesn’t mess around. To put it politely, Frank Castle disposes of roughly a dozen enemies in very unique ways, and artist Steve Dillon expertly depicts each one of these instances. The art is so well done that certain moments actually make you a little uncomfortable. There is one sequence in particular involving The Face and a phone call that is actually fairly shocking.
This new version of The Punisher is off to a solid start, thanks to Becky Cloonan’s story and Steve Dillon’s art. The focus seems to be on a darker and more mature audience, but it completely makes sense based on the character. Plus, this version of Frank Castle actually works well as an extension of Daredevil’s version on Netflix. While the story isn’t exactly made for kids or teenagers, The Punisher #1 is still a comic worth checking out, especially if you grew up a fan of the vigilante. Just remember that it might be best to read this issue before eating.