Punisher 2099 #1 Review

by Jay Hill on November 27, 2019

Written by: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Art by: Matt Horak with Eoin Marron
Colors by: Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by: Joe Sabino
Published by: Marvel Comics

*In the year 2099, an all-consuming government police force known as “the Public Eye” controls the denizens of Nueva York. But one man will risk it all to bring justice to those who do wrong. The evil need punishing, and he’s just the man for the job.

*Please read in a "movie trailer voice" – JH

In the other 2019 2099 comics, we are given small glimpses of the totalitarian police, the Public Eye, this is the first comic to delve directly into their inner workings. And that is obvious from page one when we’re introduced to our main character, Lt. Hector Tago, an officer of the Public Eye. Hector is beginning to question his memories of the moment he shot down a suspect during a call. Luckily for him, all his on-duty memories are preserved by a partner drone known as “the Iris”. This is one of the many science fiction ideas included in Punisher 2099. If this comic stands out for anything it’s the multitude of sci-fi themes and ideas included in it. There are recorded memories, social scores, drugs that have gotten rid of the prison system because of their effect to inhibit criminals, masks that shift one’s appearance, artificial intelligence, and many other interesting inclusions. However, the addition and exploration of these ideas may be what leaves the narrative feeling scattered and clunky. While the building up of the futuristic world is done with vast additions of sci-fi lore, the main tale of Hector’s moral struggle and investigation is left feeling disjointed. What seems like a simple story of a man questioning the place he works for, discovering corruption, and finally, choosing to fight that corruption is done so at a very slow pace. It may be because most of the time is spent building the world that the plot is weighed down by that. Either way, many pages feel filled with the wrong type of information and, by the end, it felt like not much ground was covered. Hector’s character isn’t that fleshed out so when he decides to become the Punisher the lack of build-up leads to a dull payoff. With so much time spent on adding ideas, there isn’t much actual Punisher in the comic (even for an origin story). And, this is a small gripe, where did he get the suit and why did he want to wear it. These are questions that could have been answered but weren’t. I did like the clash between the Asgardian/Norse worshipers the Thorites and the futuristic Public Eye. With the Thorites' appearances in the other 2099 titles, this gave a good look at why they’d exist. Their “days of the past” earthy ways are in direct contrast with the technology-dependent Public Eye.

The art in the book is sometimes even affected by the story because hefty dialogue balloons are placed in panels. And some sections of the page are devoted to giving background on a piece of lore. But other than that, the art is fair. Some of the shadows are left feeling muddy and the panel layout sometimes feels smooshed together. But the meshing of the dark art and futuristic palette comes together to an effect I personally enjoy. It has a retro sci-fi feeling, almost cyberpunk-esque. Some of the close-ups of angry faces I really enjoyed.

Punisher 2099 is filled with unique ideas, but they stack atop each other messily and that leaves the comic with a disjointed finished product. It’s unable to balance its story with its grand themes. Eventually, leaving us with a fleshed-out world but a paper-thin protagonist.

Our Score:


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