Story: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Mico Suayan
Colours: Sunny Gho
Cover: Leinil Yu & Sunny Gho
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Patrick McAleer
Marvel’s short miniseries The Trial Of The Punisher concluded this week with issue #2. This second issue picks up with the court case against Frank Castle in full swing, for him killing the Assistant District Attorney.
The little hints we got in the first issue that all is not what it seems, and that Frank may in fact have ulterior motives, pay off nicely here. Writer Marc Guggenheim has knitted together what turns out to be a traditional Punisher type story. What appeared in the first issue to be a ‘fish out of water’ tale for Frank Castle, climaxes in a beautifully brutal on-model Punisher finale. My only criticism of Guggenheim is that this second issue feels a little rushed. I feel this would have read a little more naturally if it had been pushed out to 3 issues instead of the more constraining 2. To be fair to Guggenheim this may be down more to the Marvel higher-ups demands than his original vision.
Part of the reason I’d have loved a third issue is that the courtroom scenes work really well. There’s a palpable tension in the air as you’re thinking “Well how is old Frank gonna get himself out of this pickle?”. That’s due in no small part to not only Guggenheim’s skills as a writer but the fact that he is also a qualified lawyer. When thinking about the Punisher as a character, many see him as a sledgehammer in the Marvel universe, lacking the intellect of the more ‘surgical’ and law-abiding heroes. Yet it takes smarts to do what Frank Castle does, all while managing to stay alive and evade the law for as long as he has. That is what I love about this little series. Guggenheim shows you how the Punisher, far from being the unthinking battering ram many consider him to be, is actually a wily old fox able to outwit and out-think the best of them, which in this issue includes Matt Murdock (Daredevil).
As for the art, pencils on this issue are by Mico Suayan. His style is similar to Leinil Yu (who penciled #1) and so with the excellent Sunny Gho still on colours, this artist switch reads smoothly. Often artist changes can be jarring and take away from the enjoyment of the book. Not so here, thankfully, as Suayan has that same detailed and almost etching quality to his pencils that Yu has. He’s a perfect fit again for this darkly serious take on one of Marvel’s biggest names. Gho once again hits all the right notes with his subdued colours, adding a noirish weight to the story.
Overall, this was an all too brief but very well written Punisher story. Guggenheim’s knowledge of the judicial process added a really interesting depth to the series. The art team perfectly conveyed the foreboding sense of menace that you knew the story would culminate in. It’s a shame there isn’t an ongoing Punisher title, so it’s a case of we’ll take what we can get. But it is a massive bonus that in this instance what we got was pretty great.
Patrick is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @RepStones.