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Review: Punisher #1

Punisher #1

Punisher has felt like a character that has been kind of listless for a while now. He’s been a one-note character at times and when he’s deviated, it hasn’t really been good. He was an avenging angel, a take on Frankenstein’s monster, a Nazi fascist supporting Hydra, and now in Punisher #1, he’s the High Slayer for the Hand. Gone is the classic skull logo (sure to return one day) and in it’s place is… a different skull logo.

Written by Jason Aaron we get a bit of the past and the present in Punisher #1. We get a sense of the current focus on the Punisher and the Hand as well as how he came to be in his current position. Like far too many Batman and Spider-Man films, the comic opens with yet another perspective on the death of his family. It’s followed by an interesting collage of the character throughout the years skipping the three variations I mentioned above. Maybe we’re supposed to forget that? Maybe we’re subconsciously being told to eventually ignore and forget this variation as well? But I digress…

The comic is ok. We get the over the top violence we’d expect from the character and moments of levity like his pondering his need to learn how to use a sword better. Hasn’t he used one in the past? Whatever, there’s guns, lots of guns, and the Punisher generally going after a villain he’d be against. But, there feels like a disconnect here.

Why would the Punisher work with the Hand? He’s absolutely a character that embodies “the end justifies the means”. But, it still feels a bit weird. Thankfully Aaron gives us the “why”, but that doesn’t quite match up either. In a twist that has happened before the Punisher is offered something for his services and joining the Hand. It’s something he’s been offered… and rejected in a very memorable moment. No, not going to spoil it but hopefully Aaron will address the change of heart on this one.

Jesús Saiz and Paul Aza provide the art with colors by Dave Stewart and lettering by Cory Petit. The comic visually is pretty solid but feels a bit conservative in some ways. Hands get chopped off, so do heads, delivering some of the over-the-top violence we expect. Blood flies everywhere. But, there’s also not fetishistic dance of blood, gore, and destruction we’ve seen in previous comics. It’s on the bloodier side of things but generally about what we’d see in recent runs not written by Garth Ennis. It even feels dialed back at points focusing on the Punisher, his words and body language, than the action itself.

We may never know how much of the current co-opting of the character by the far right lead to this direction. But, it doesn’t quite feel like the Punisher. For a character who has had such an unwavering, black and white, view on crime, his current role makes him feel a bit like a hypocrite and a less interesting character.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW