Marco Checchetto

The Punisher 6 (February 2012)

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I’ve got to say… Rucka’s never going to be able to recover from the Punisher having a snow outfit. It’s like Batman & Robin or something. Next he’ll have ice skates in his boots.

This issue’s pretty lame. Once again, Frank is silent. But more, Lady Punisher is mostly silent too. The big predictable set piece happens and Rucka (along with new artists Matthews Southworth and Clark) channel their nineties John Woo. Is John Woo still cool enough to channel? I don’t think so.

There’s nothing particularly terrible about the comic. Oh, sure, the white snowsuit Punisher costume (perfect for an action figure variant at the Disney Store) is dumb and the two Matthews have lots of art problems, but it’s not offensive.

It’s just juvenile. Rucka finally was making some progress on the book and he’s completely flushed it. He still hasn’t made Frank Castle a character.

The Punisher‘s pointless.

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.

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