Frank Castle has become a lot of things in the world of comics in recent years. A Ghost Rider. War Machine. An adversary of Archie Andrews. For those who find all of that a little hard to keep track of, The Punisher #1 is here to save the day, providing a sort of soft reboot for the character. If you’ve been following along with Matthew Rosenberg’s run on the character so far, this issue will feel like a logical next chapter. But if you’ve been meaning to revisit Frank Castle and his ultra-violent world, then this is absolutely the place to start.
The issue follows up with the international drama that Frank got himself into as War Machine, as Baron Zemo and one other Marvel villain attempt to put their latest evil plan into action. Interestingly, the issue’s villains and their M.O. is a predominant focus of the issue, with Frank almost slinking around like a ghost for a lot of the events.
Frank’s presence is definitely felt throughout the issue, but it’s in a sort of unpredictable way—a shadowy figure in the reflection of someone’s helmet, or an ominous voice making himself heard on a walkie talkie. Readers don’t actually see Frank’s face until essentially halfway through the issue, a decision that has a much larger impact than one would imagine.
It's certainly an interesting creative choice, one that almost recontextualizes how Frank Castle does what he does. There's definitely a sense, even through all of the violence of this issue, that Rosenberg wants to tackle the consequences of Frank's actions, in a different way than how everything caught up to him at the end of the War Machine arc. Sure, a Marvel hero with an established beef against Frank does make their way into this issue, but the events that they are present for shift that conflict into a whole different, complex direction.
That focus on consequences can be seen throughout the issue, both through the plot and the way that Szymon Kudranski illustrates certain scenes. The violence of this issue is just as bloody and borderline ridiculous as ever, which Kudranski depicts in a detailed, but almost frenzied, manner. Even through the chaos, some of the issue's quieter moments are what really stand out.
Whether it's a limp hand next to an overturned coffee cup, or Frank wordlessly switching his weapons during a hallway fight, it's the way that Kudranski depicts the world of The Punisher itself that will hopefully make an impact with readers. Even the issue's use of panels, with several sequences being drawn into increasingly-smaller scope-like boxes, is a surprising and interesting choice.
Kudranski's art is accented by Antonio Fabela's colors, which paint a little bit of a more vibrant world than one would expect from The Punisher. At times, almost neon hues of purple, yellow, and orange make their way onto the page, and the end result is pretty striking. Cory Petit's lettering also adds to the overall ambiance of it all, with certain onomatopoeias being presented in a delightfully unique way.
There’s an interesting dichotomy within The Punisher #1—as things are getting smaller and more back to basics for Frank, the consequences of his actions seem to be getting larger and larger. Considering the ways the character has been interpreted over the years, that choice is a complex, but decidedly powerful one, which could bode well for the series as it continues to go on. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this all will resolve for Frank, or what kind of man he will be when his chickens come to roost. But there’s enough within this new-ish iteration of The Punisher to make fans eager to follow along for the ride.
Published by Marvel Comics
On August 21, 2018
Written by Matt Rosenberg
Art by Szymon Kudranski
Colors by Antonio Fabela
Letters by Cory Petit