Story by Greg Rucka
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Marco Checchetto

Price: $2.99

Copyright 2012 Marvel Comics

One of the most consistently well-written and well-drawn comics of the past year was the re-booted Punisher by Greg Rucka, Marco Checchetto and Matt Hollingsworth. Rucka’s take on Frank Castle was sparse, violent, classic Punisher, and I will not be at all surprised if it comes to be seen as (one of) the definitive depictions of this often misunderstood character.

I was disappointed when I found out that Rucka was calling time on his run on Punisher. Together with Mark Waid’s Daredevil it was one of the titles I looked forward to reading the most, week in week out. These titles were re-launched without any fanfare at all really and they quickly built up a devoted following. I sincerely hope Daredevil continues for a while and doesn’t get caught up in the Marvel NOW initiative. It’s still going in the solicitations for January 2013 so it’s looking good.

Before Rucka bids farewell to Frank Castle for good he is bringing a limited issue series to the shelves in the form of Punisher: War Zone. Issue #1 was released this week and it definitely served to ease my disappointment at the ongoing series coming to an end.

Spoilers ahead!

The premise of this 5 issue series is that, following the events of issue #16, the final issue of Rucka’s previous run, Spiderman feels that Castle has finally gone too far and persuades The Avengers that the Punisher needs to be dealt with, one way or another.

The first few pages are taken up with a fight between Spiderman and the Punisher which is always great fun. Peter Parker’s non-stop chatter and lame quips are a perfect counterpoint to Castle’s stoic, minimal persona. In this battle the Punisher gets the better of Spiderman and vanishes again.

After Spiderman persuades The Avengers to help him bring the Punisher in, Wolverine goes to one of Castle’s hideouts and warns him that The Avengers are coming for him. It’s interesting to see these two characters, who are similar in many ways, interacting like this. They clearly have a mutual respect for each other abut they both know that Spiderman has set the Punisher on a collision course with The Avengers, and that includes Wolverine.

There is a fair amount of tension in this book, carefully built up by Rucka as the issue progresses. He is laying the groundwork for what is essentially going to be four more issues of the Punisher battling with The Avengers. I’ll gladly pay to see that.

It’s pleasing to see that the look Rucka and Checchetto gave Castle in the ongoing series is carried over here. The Punisher with a beard and eye-patch just looks totally menacing.

The artwork on this series is provided by Italian artist Carmine Di Giandomenico. I’m not familiar with his work and though it is unfair to do so I can’t help compare his art on this book with Checchetto’s glorious pencils in the preceding run. I make no secret of my love for Checchetto’s art and it was always going to be a tough act to follow. On the whole Di Giandomenico’s art in this book is really solid. He draws Castle extremely well and his facial expressions in close-up are impressive. The fight scene with Spiderman works really well and is very well laid out. I have a slight issue with the latter half of the book and the drawing of The Avengers, which is not as good as his depiction of Castle. The faces are not as detailed, and Captain America at times looks like his head is a cube with eyes. However this is a minor thing that I have picked up on and overall the art in this book is good.

Rucka’s writing, as ever, is superlative. He has continued his excellent characterisation and plotting in Punisher: War Zone. I am running out of words to express just how good Greg Rucka is.

All I can say is read this comic book. And if you haven’t read the ongoing series over the past year and a bit, go find it and read that too.

Published by Mark Brassington

Father and Husband. Works in Corporate Banking. Loves Books, Comics, Cycling, Music, Games, going to the Gym and Writing.

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