Punisher

The Punisher 5 (January 2012)

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It’s a slightly odd issue. Whoever thought a Punisher Thanksgiving special would be good, but Rucka uses the holiday to give some insight into the cast.

Three months have passed since the last issue and Rucka is catching the reader up with the cast, including the Punisher’s ten-year old sidekick. The sidekick will likely be Frank’s conscience at some point.

I’m not a fan of this boy band Punisher–Bendis’s Ultimate Punisher from Team-Up certainly wasn’t boy band–but Rucka does well with the supporting cast. He works a little on his Lady Punisher storyline, taking his time, kneading the subplot gently. His female characters are better than his male. The guys are just stereotypes, the women have actual depth.

Checchetto’s art is still solid without being sensational or entirely on target. There isn’t a single memorable panel.

The Punisher is professional and competent, but otherwise rather uninspired.

The Punisher 4 (December 2011)

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It occurs to me, four issues in, I have almost no opinion of Checchetto. He’s a fine enough artist, he hits the mood Rucka’s going for… but he doesn’t bring anything to The Punisher. When he does try an elaborate design, it kills the pace of an issue.

Anyway, I just realized I barely talk about him.

Now, to Rucka. Rucka’s Punisher is a little like the Shadow, with a network of people indebted to him or otherwise inclined to help him. Even with Frank talking, Rucka goes out of his way to remove any personality from the character. They really need to get a Spider-Man cameo in the book, just the liven up the dialogue.

Rucka’s doing well the supporting cast except the senior detective. The reporter (Rucka’s best character) gives the detective a nickname–“Sherlock Homie.”

It’s an awkward racial nickname; it flops.

Rucka can do better.

The Punisher 3 (November 2011)

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Big Frank’s first words? Not worth the wait.

Rucka and Checchetto turn in an all action issue. It’s like Rucka’s trying not to let people decide whether they want to like the book or not.

Frank versus some mutant version of the Vulture? Kind of cool. But not because of anything Rucka brings to the table. Once again, he’s counting on the reader’s recollection of a previous Punisher he or she liked and so will care about Frank’s exploits here.

It’s very cheap.

Reading the airborne fight scene, it got me wondering what else Rucka has in store for the future. Good action sequences, probably with decent guest stars.

Only towards the end of the issue, with the introduction of a possible Lady Punisher and a new friend for Frank does the issue finally get interesting.

Rucka hasn’t been predictable on the book; I hope he doesn’t miss good opportunities.

The Punisher 2 (October 2011)

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Still no dialogue out of Frank.

Is Rucka just waiting for some big reveal or has he just not figured out his approach yet. Checchetto has decided his approach, however. Frank Castle looks like he’s in a boy band. Or, was in a boy band and is planning a come back. Not the toughest looking Frank, not even a weathered one.

Still, Rucka maintains professional competence and Checchetto is a decent artist for this urban kind of thing. The Punisher is readable, but totally indistinct. It’s like Marvel wanted to sell old Punisher trades so they put this series out–it just reminds the reader of better older comics he or she can go purchase in trades.

Rucka’s cliffhanger, which is boring in terms of the narrative (since Frank doesn’t talk), should be telling. He’s going to have to define his interpretation of the character.

At least, one would assume.

The Punisher 1 (October 2011)

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It’s hard to have any opinion of Greg Rucka’s Punisher because Frank Castle isn’t really in the issue. Instead, Rucka follows around a couple cops who are investigating a sensational shooting.

Only one of the cops is really working for Frank so there’s finally a non-speaking appearance from the Punisher at the end.

Everything about the comic is generic–not bad, just generic. Rucka’s got his young white cop and his seasoned old black cop (hey, just like Seven). Frank doesn’t talk, he’s just a criminal’s nightmare or whatever.

The Marco Checchetto art is good–Rucka’s clearly going for a Gotham Central vibe and Checchetto helps it. But The Punisher isn’t Gotham Central. Frank isn’t Batman. What makes or breaks a Punisher comic is the writer’s handle on the character and Rucka’s apparently trying to delay having to have any opinion on him.

It’s not bad… it’s just vacant.

PunisherMAX 4 (April 2010)

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I think I might just give up on PunisherMAX right here. It’s clear Aaron doesn’t know how to write a good Punisher book and doesn’t even want to write a serious one.

It’s funny to think if I was under a rock, comics-wise, and hadn’t heard of Scalped, and read this comic, I’d think Aaron was just a buffoon.

This issue isn’t even “realistic,” it’s Frank getting beat up. Again, if Ennis’s run showed anything, it’s the danger of making Frank human. There’s not a story in it and there’s not a story here.

So it’s bon voyage to PunisherMAX for me here. I think if I’d sat down to read these on a monthly basis, I could at least come up with the enthusiasm to mock some of their stupider points, but trying to sit and read the whole thing?

It makes me a little sick to my stomach.

CREDITS

Kingpin, Part Four; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Steve Dillon; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Sebastian Girner and Axel Alonso; publisher, MAX Comics.

PunisherMAX 3 (March 2010)

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Wow, Aaron hasn’t just seen the Usual Suspects, he’s seen a History of Violence too. I wonder if he’ll work in some other incredibly well-known film’s concept in the future. Maybe send Frank back to the future in a DeLorean.

Except of course, Frank’s still not the protagonist. Dillon’s drawing him a little more age appropriate for the story this issue, but the art’s got some major issues. Whoever scanned the pages apparently screwed something up and they had to zoom in the art, making it look real bad. I hate it when comics have this problem, because it clearly means some link in the production chain is faulty.

The issue’s pretty weak. Not as weak as last issue but weak all the same. Aaron’s trying hard, with Dillon illustrating, to make it feel like Ennis’s Punisher.

But it’s not beautifully written and the jokes are weak so it doesn’t.

CREDITS

Kingpin, Part Three; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Steve Dillon; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Sebastian Girner and Axel Alonso; publisher, MAX Comics.

PunisherMAX 2 (February 2010)

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Kingpin narrates the issue. I’m not sure why they call it PunisherMAX, since it’s really KingpinMAX. Aaron comes up with all sorts of awful gritty, “real” things for KingpinMAX to have done, but really… he’s just ripping off the Usual Suspects.

It’s not a particularly fast read either. So when I get done with it and have almost nothing to say about it. Aaron’s KingpinMAX approach reminds me of Bendis’s Ultimate Punisher (from Ultimate Marvel Team-Up), he’s just streamlining and modernizing.

I guess my only other reaction to the comic is how much better suited this creative team would be for a Daredevil MAX series. Maybe Aaron would want to write it more too, because he doesn’t seem to want write Frank Castle.

Oh… the whole concept requires the reader to think Frank is dumb. Kind of like Ennis’s crappy “Barracuda” arc from his series.

Not the one to emulate.

CREDITS

Kingpin, Part Two; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Steve Dillon; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Sebastian Girner and Axel Alonso; publisher, MAX Comics.

PunisherMAX 1 (January 2010)

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Bringing in Steve Dillon to do the sequel to Ennis’s Punisher MAX series might seem like a no brainer but after one issue, I hate it. Dillon did all Ennis’s jokey Punisher stuff and it’s hard not to think of that approach when reading this issue.

There’s the additional issue of realism. I’m not sure what ingredient is needed to make the art on the Punisher look realistic, but Dillon isn’t cooking with it. His Frank doesn’t look sixty. A sequel to Ennis’s Punisher only works if Frank’s sixty.

Jason Aaron’s writing is unimpressive. He mimics one of Ennis’s mob boss scenes–maybe from the second or third MAX arc; it’s stale. Frank’s barely present, never as the protagonist. Instead, Aaron’s doing the MAX version of Wilson Fisk. Aaron’s ingenious idea is he comes to power through a scheme.

I could be less impressed with PunisherMAX, but I’m not sure how.

CREDITS

Kingpin, Part One; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Steve Dillon; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Sebastian Girner and Axel Alonso; publisher, MAX Comics.

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