Review: The Punisher #3 – “Why do I have to be Mr. Skullface?” “Because you’re The Punisher, alright?!”
Beware: The Punisher does not count spoilers in a review as a crime (spoilers below).
STRAIGHT TO HELL! On the trail of horrific drug EMC, FRANK CASTLE lands on the doorstep of a crew of bloodthirsty Appalachian warriors. But the leader of the group knows THE PUNISHER’s brutal style, and is prepared to fight fire with fire…on an innocent bystander! In the midst of the carnage, how will Frank weigh the crimes of CONDOR against the life of an innocent?
Welcome, dear Punisher fans, to the review for the latest issue of The Punisher (2016). Let’s just jump right into it, shall we?
We begin with the DEA, believing that they have Frank cornered in a motel room. Of course, he isn’t there. Will the authorities ever learn that Frank Castle does not get caught unless it’s all part of his plan? Why do they even bother at this point? Anyway, Frank is actually out working, he’s surveying the location of his next targets. Inside one of the trailers sits Juniper, the little girl from the previous issue; the little girl whose scumbag dad has strapped a bomb to her. She is blissfully unaware of the danger she is in, joyfully singing to herself and her dinosaur toys. Honestly, it’s nerve-wracking; with almost any other series and you’d be safe thinking that a child would survive, but this is The Punisher, and nothing is off-limits. Juniper’s arsehole of a father intends for her to walk right up to The Punisher and blow him to smithereens. Naturally, we all know that it won’t actually go down that way, don’t we, readers?
After a brief shootout between Frank and the gang, we see ‘The Face’ discussing The Punisher on the phone to a man who looks suspiciously similar to Joe from Reservoir Dogs.
Anyway, Face is trying to pass the blame for the problems onto Olaf, who, if you recall is Frank’s old commanding officer. We’re not entirely sure what Olaf is planning, but from what we can ascertain, he is sick of being ordered around by CONDOR, and is hoping for Frank to take out the leaders of the organisation. Perhaps he is hoping to take over once his competition has been wiped out. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed by Face. In the very first issue, the man had a wall full of severed faces nailed to his wall. He is very clearly out of his mind; I was incredibly excited to see just how dark this guy could go, but all we’ve seen him do since is pull some crazy faces.
Although I’m a huge fan of The Punisher and his merciless disembowelling of the criminal world, I really enjoy seeing his softer side; something that we actually get a glimpse of during this issue. After dispatching Juniper’s father in the density of a smoke grenade (so Juniper doesn’t have to see), he very gently talks to Juniper to make sure she’s okay, and immediately removes the explosive device strapped to the poor child. Happily, Juniper goes back to singing about dinosaurs while Frank drives them away from the blood soaked area. I think we can all agree, Juniper’s dad got what’s coming to him.
And here we are again, at the point where I discuss the art. I’ll keep it brief since you will all know my thoughts from my previous reviews. Still not great, not ‘gritty looking’ enough, etc…
However, this time, instead of focusing on the negative, let us take a look at the positive aspects of the art. Well, first off, you’ve seen the title image for the article, that panel is actually rather beautiful in its own way. I absolutely love the stance, the lighting, and the simplicity of it. Steve Dillon does have his moments, doesn’t he? There is one other panel in particular that I very much enjoyed, and that is while the smoke grenade is going off, we see the iconic skull barely emerging through the dense cloud of green gas. It’s oddly eerie, I love it. It was actually a contender for the banner image, but the one I went for was just too good to pass up.
Right then, let’s wrap this review up. To be honest, it’s a bit of a slow arc. I know this is only the third issue, but I really don’t get a sense that this is building towards anything. I was really hoping that the new line of Punisher comics would be reminiscent of 2004’s Punisher run, the gritty, brutal, no holds barred stories, the over the top fight scenes, and the beautiful art. Ah well, who knows what the future holds? Perhaps this will be one of those arcs that reads much better once you have all the chapters at hand. What are your thoughts on this issue, and indeed, the arc so far? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by: Becky Cloonan.
Art by: Steve Dillon.
Cover by: Declan Shalvey.
The Punisher #3 is available now.
Image credits: Marvel Comics.