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The Punisher #1
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Marco Checchetto
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by VC's Joe Caramagna
The Punisher's been an angel, a Frankenstein, and has even gone toe-to-toe with Marvel's more colorful characters, but this time Marvel brings him back to the mean streets and dark alleys where the scum of society fester with The Punisher #1. It's all part of Marvel's Big Shots initiative, giving new #1s to fan-favorite characters using superstar creative teams. It's a pretty exciting move, made even more exciting by virtue of The Punisher's new writer, superstar Greg Rucka.
Best news we've had all year.
With The Punisher #1, Greg Rucka shows us he not only gets Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, but he's willing to craft a new legend for Marvel's violent anti-hero. As this is a new #1, you might think they would use this time to bring us up to speed on who the Punisher is and what he can do, as a good first issue should. But the most you'll get is a brief description in the opening page that explains who he is and how he came to be. And you know what? That's all you need to enjoy this book. The Punisher punishes bad guys in the worst way possible, and with that in mind, you're free to enjoy what Rucka's got in store for you here.
It starts off introducing the world the Punisher is about to rock. A world of really bad people doing gruesome crimes...and lurking in the shadows, of course, is Frank Castle waiting to strike. It's a very interesting way of introducing everyone, including new readers, to this character. It's the detectives investigating the crime and the faces of the victims that are on display here. The Punisher's presence amounts to seething silhouettes, adding a layer of mystery and tension to the book.
Rucka's use of him here is interesting, as if he's setting the Punisher up to become this force of nature, this mysterious dealer of death you only hear in whispers (if you're a bad, bad man), who you only see at the last second when he's about to put a bullet through your head. And it works. The moment the Punisher does appear, you feel what the bad guys are feeling right there and then: Oh crap. He's here. I'm dead.
Marco Checchetto on art is perfect. He brings clarity to Rucka's story where word balloons aren't enough. You could skim through this book without the words and understand what's going on. That kind of sequential storytelling skill is rare, but Checchetto pulls it off and then some. There are a few times when gritty becomes too gritty, or panel choices lead to confusion, but it's not enough to detract from the story. Matt Hollingworth's colors are just the icing on this bloody cake, giving the book a lot of atmosphere and a cinematic feel.
All in all, The Punisher #1 does what a good first issue does and then some. It's a fresh and exciting start for Frank Castle with gorgeously bloody art to boot. If you haven't read about the Punisher before and don't know where to start, you absolutely can't go wrong with this one.
Review by: TheGeek