Punisher #12 Review

by Charles Martin on June 12, 2019

Punisher #12 Review
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colourist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This new arc aims to pit Frank against Zemo in a classic "Punisher stalks the street" story.

First, though, we've got to get him from the middle-of-the-damn-nowhere Atlantic back to New York, and that's what #12 eventually accomplishes.

There are a few drug-growing gangsters running around the island he's stuck on, and killing them serves as a nice warm-up exercise. Then, Frank has to team up with some more complicated folks - aid workers escaping in the company of some Hydra goons who saw the writing on the wall back in Bagalia and would like to quit being bad guys.

So the lead aid worker gets to try and explain that to Frank Castle, the man who sits at the polar opposite end of the Marvel Villain Redemption Scale from, say, Squirrel Girl. It's a good talk - provided you're not a Hydra thug trying to turn over a new leaf - and it serves a promising long-term purpose by carrying the memory of Sister Mercy over into the new arc.

Once that's over, though, a team of loyal Hydra goons rolls in to serve as arrow pincushions while Frank bounces around the jungle playing Rambo.

In terms of story and ideas, I liked the front half of this comic a lot more than the back. There's some novelty (and sweet one-liners) in his brutal fight with the drug dealers, and the philosophical conversation is classic Punisher. But the back half is just too familiar and forgettable.

On the visual front, my feelings are pretty much reversed. The beginning is soaked in Szymon Kudranski's characteristic deep shadows, a tone that both sets a mood and covers up a multitude of artistic foibles. I give him full credit, though: He puts together some very strong layouts and these hold up well when Antonio Fabela drenches some of the central pages with vibrant colours suited to a tropical morning. The art reaches a bloody, stylish high point in the second act.

The art slowly slides back into darkness as the story plays itself out. Unfortunately, it runs out of gas at precisely the wrong time. This island interlude really needed to end with a bang to assert itself as a meaningful, non-skippable part of the Punisher's ongoing story. While Frank does treat the Hydra goons to a literal big bang at the end, that explosion doesn't provide the storytelling impact this comic needs.

Before launching into the next stage of his war on Hydra, Frank needs to get back to New York. This issue shows how he goes about that, but this minor-grade tropical mayhem risks fading from the reader's memory as soon as the next arc gets properly underway.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Will the Marvel universe ever run out of overconfident goons who fantasize about killing the Punisher shortly before Frank guts 'em? Survey says not likely.