The fun thing about shorter collections like this title is that it contains more than one story. This issue contains two stories that ran two issues long and as a bonus, Daredevil #500. We peer inside to answer the question, is it good?
Punisher & Bullseye: Deadliest Hits (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
The unthinkable happens when the Punisher surrenders himself to police! The trial of the century begins as Frank Castle admits to murdering a district attorney!Is this the end of the Punisher’s war on crime? Plus: There was a year when no one knew where he was. When Bullseye – the world’s greatest assassin – simply vanished without a trace. In the glare of the white hot lights, no one noticed the lanky stranger with the rubber arm, throwing heat that could, well, take off a man’s head. See, every man needs a challenge, a moment when he faces impossible odds, when he looks deep inside himself and sees what he’s really made of. Bullseye’s next pitch is one for the history books.
Why does this book matter?
Collecting Punisher: Trial of the Punisher #1-2, Bullseye: Perfect Game #1-#2 and Daredevil #500, readers get a little bit of something from all three characters. While the cover shows Punisher–the “Trial of the Punisher” storyline is the headliner after all–the overall read is more eclectic and therefore more of a smorgasbord.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A badass move for sure. Art by Leinil Francis Yu.
The opening story, “Trial of the Punisher” is a strong two issue arc especially if you’re interested in the court system. Marc Guggenheim writes a well composed and informative sort of issue that helps shed a bit of light on the court system because Frank Castle must use its rules in order to enact a plan. The story opens with him entering a police station with a dead body in a duffle bag and from there he plays along with how a court hearing would play out. To say more in regards to details would spoil the cleverness of Frank’s plan, but know it’s an entertaining story. It’s the kind of Punisher story that reminds us he’s not just good with guns, but with strategy too.
The art in “Trial of the Punisher” is split up between Leinil Francis Yu and Mico Suayan. Yu’s style suits the story as it’s darker in tone and he is a master at drawing a variety of shady faces. The flashbacks look particularly wistful and dreamlike given they’re being told via testimony and you get a sense that Punisher is incredibly iconic in the public eye. Suayan draws incredible faces with an attention to detail that’s photorealistic. His style is darker in tone too and it suits a flashback later in the issue with Punisher facing off with Daredevil. Both artists compliment the darker tone.
The second story is the Bullseye “Perfect Game” story written by Charlie Huston with art by Shawn Martinbrough. This is a high-concept sort of tale with an unknown narrator telling us a long story about Bullseye. It’s revealed he has an agent to collect jobs–which might be the strongest part of this story–and how Bullseye is finicky with the jobs he chooses. Ultimately he picks a gig in baseball for too many reasons to count. The narrator is an older man, the type who draws out a story for dramatic effect, which suits the tale well. It ends with a reveal that’s both interesting and unexpected.
Finally Daredevil #500, written by Ann Nocenti and drawn by David Aja, caps off the trade. This is a story that opens with Daredevil getting beat by Bullseye and then recouping from wounds with an older man and a young girl. The dynamic is interesting, the man an ex-boxer who drinks too much and the girl with no place to go when her parents are awake due to their fighting. They lend Daredevil an ear and some hospitality and it has a nice tone to remind us why Daredevil is the man of the people. David Aja is a wonder and really any time you get a chance to enjoy his work you should do so; he does a fantastic job with this issue, perhaps most impressively with his sense of pacing. No matter the size of a panel you can tell Aja spent a good deal of time crafting how it would look. There’s a visual component that’s telling a story every single time.
The second story in the “Trial of the Punisher” story has some wickedly good art.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The “Perfect Game” storyline, for all the drawn out drama from the narrator, doesn’t quite hit its mark. The dialogue is so heavy, and the story less showing and more telling, it is bogged down and tiring to get through. There are highlights in the story–like seeing Bullseye practice pitching with Taskmaster batting–but it goes on too long with a very minor payoff by the end. I’m not a huge baseball fan though, and much of this story feels like it’s written for the fans of baseball, so if you dig baseball you might just love it. A lot of thought and detail went into this story to point out how difficult baseball is to learn and perfect. Seeing as I could care less about baseball this element of the story didn’t do it for me.
The inclusion of Daredevil #500 is a nice addition, though it seems somewhat out of place as more of a Daredevil story than a Bullseye story. Given the first two stories include Punisher and/or Bullseye it seems more added in to pad the book out than anything else.
The second story is a bit slow.
Is It Good?
Punisher & Bullseye: Deadliest Hits is worth a look for the “Trial of the Punisher” story alone and the art never falters in any of its pages. I can’t say this is a book you’ll enjoy from beginning to end in part because nearly half of it is a love letter to baseball. That said, Punisher fans gotta read this for a fine example of the master tactician at work.