I named Punisher #1 my favorite number one issue out of everything from the All-New Marvel NOW! line. Let’s see how the intense drug hunt continues in this issue. Is it Good?
Punisher #3 (Marvel Comics)
It seems wrong to call this story fun, but I’ll definitely say it is enjoyable and very compelling. The Punisher is chasing after a Mexican drug cartel that has landed in Los Angeles. If the cartel were by itself, the Punisher would be done with them before breakfast. However, the cartel has managed to gain the friendship and become partners with Electro, a deadly and capable supervillain. The Punisher and his motley group of allies who support him from home take on this threat.
The first fight scene is great: The Punisher is narrating and describing how much he’s suffering as he’s trying to pull off the shot to take out Electro the entire time. His woozy, painful lightheadedness is described even better with wonky, off-beat coloring that shows off the LA landscape well and how deadly Electro looks in contrast to it. Everything about this scene was done well and should satisfy any fan’s need for some intense ass kicking.
Part of the reason I enjoy this series is how writer Nathan Edmondson has managed to engross us in the Punisher’s world. There are characters that we just met two issues ago who help keep the story moving along away from the main action — from the Howling Commandos subplot to a little extra side story that I’m sure will pop back up later. Above it all there’s an interesting sense of humility as well: with every breakfast shared between Frank and his cop friend we see just how human Frank is, something that a story of an other worldly drug war can lose sight of sometimes.
Edmondson has done a nice job exploiting the drug trade and showing just how terrible the cartel men are. Therefore, I find it excusable and necessary to put in such brutality and so much blood. However, I found that the torture scene in this issue was completely out of place and could easily have been avoided. I think Edmondson wanted grit and badassery and chose the wrong approach. Other than that one short instance, the violence all served a purpose and was reasonably entertaining.
At least untie his arms…
The one thing that I think could make this series even better is if the creative team, especially editorial, cut loose a little bit more and amped things up. Frank isn’t suffering enough at this point and things are actually starting to look up; throw some stuff at him he can’t handle, really get him exhausted. I promise the pay off will be much greater if Frank has gone through some real hardships. I understand this is the intent with Electro and his growing lethality, but let’s have Frank tackle some characters that aren’t just lackeys. (It’s still only issue #3, so this is excusable.)
I think this is artist Mitch Gerads’ best work to date, especially with the coloring. In a couple of panels the lighting is the color of 3D, a really eerie effect that drives the horror of what Electro is capable of. Because a buzz of energy and electricity is constantly surrounding us, there really is no refuge from him. It’s a scary notion made real by the coloring. Although I disliked the scene itself, I thought how the light came through the window in the torture cell was really sophisticated and helped make things even more grimy and brutal.
Is It Good?
Punisher keeps rocking as we near the climax of the first arc. The only thing I have to dock points for here is the torture scene which was totally unneeded, and only made you care less about Frank.