Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerads
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 19, 2014

PUN2014002_DC11_LRThe creative team that brought you The Activity, follows up their debut issue of Frank Castle and his exploits as The Punisher. This time the Punisher leaves the east coast and departs for the west, following the torrential exploits of the Dos Soles gang to Los Angeles. The Punisher may be out of his element, but never in over his head.

Edmondson is really trying to carve out a niche for Frank in this series. There’s been a trend at Marvel with the success of its Hawkeye and Daredevil series, that they intend to capitalize on, and this is another series where they will attempt to jovially peel back the layers of the character and show the humanity behind some of their actions. What this means for readers is that this series is a newfound focus on the simple, day-to-day actions of our skull-clad hero. This Punisher makes friends and shares small conversation with people on a regular basis at a diner, with a cook and a police officer. He also gets supplies, weapons, and ammunition from a military buddy named Tuggs. Of course there is some slight banter amongst the people he interacts with, and there are even attempts to throw humor into it. Frank even wears a t-shirt that pays direct homage to Clint Barton’s attire in Hawkeye. That’s fun right?

Writer Nathan Edmondson evokes some warm-natured sensibilities for Punisher, but his forte is his ability to write action. Frank Castle dons a skull mask and goes through the motions of callously eliminating thugs and drug dealers with the cold-hearted efficiency that we’ve come to expect from The Punisher. There is no moment to reflect on the value of life for Frank Castle’s enemies, their bad deeds must be punished by death. This, in itself, is refreshing because in spite of the book’s attempts to be light-hearted and humorous, when it is juxtaposed with people getting shot in the head or watching various thugs present themselves on the wrong end of Frank’s automatic weapon, it commands your attention.

Artist Mitch Gerads employs a very simplistic style of art with thicker lines and borders, while still able to provide details in gadgetry and facial features. While it may be too early to determine if Gerads’ design for Frank Castle and his newfound California lifestyle is the right fit yet, Gerads certainly gives him an honest effort and a fresh take on the brooding superhero. Mitch Gerads employs a fantastic coloring style that lends itself so well to the California desert landscapes. Panels evoke a cinematic feel without lens flare as the hot, bright sun shines behind Frank and effectively set the proper tone for each page.

Overall, this issue is a solid effort by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads to create a new habitat for the Punisher to unleash himself in. Even though Frank still shoots bad guys in the face, Edmondson and Gerads The Punisher still seems a bit gentrified with his newfound pals and the introduction of a new pet. While I don’t necessarily agree with the metaphorical application of Hawkeye and his t-shirt garment to Frank Castle and this new series, I’m still curious about the direction Edmondson and Gerads plan on taking us in future issues. While Frank Castle’s character is ostensibly a relentless guy with weapons as his superpower, he’s still  part of the Marvel Universe and a part of comic books, and the last page will remind you of that.  The Punisher is certainly a new perspective that we haven’t quite encountered before and it should still earns the attention of Punisher fans and comic book readers alike.

The Verdict: 7.5/10


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