Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Leinel Yu
Colours: Sunny Gho
Cover: Leinel Yu & Sunny Gho
Review by Patrick McAleer
Anyone remotely interested in comics will be familiar with the skull-chested brute known as The Punisher. He is the anti-hero force of nature that the less morally ambiguous heores in the Marvel universe prefer not to have to work. Frank Castle doesn’t allow himself to be bound by the conventions of civil society; he has designated himself judge, jury and executioner and to be quite honest, he excels at it.
With this history of Frank Castle in mind, this new miniseries from Marvel, The Punisher: The Trial Of The Punisher, becomes an intriguing concept as this first issue opens with The Punisher marching straight into a police station with a body in his duffel bag, in order to turn himself in. He confesses to murder and submits himself to the rule of law and prosecution in court.
It is with this set-up that writer Marc Guggenheim hooks readers in with a ‘duck out of water’ tale for The Punisher. Much of the exposition in this issue is delievered through Frank’s internal monologue which is only to be expected in such a short, 2 issue arc. It’s a credit to Guggenheim’s skills as a writer that someone unfamiliar with this character could pick this issue up and appreciate the dichotomy of Frank’s past and his present course of action.
As the issue progresses we are given little hints that perhaps The Punisher’s act of turning himself in isn’t so black and white, which for a man who dwells in the grey area of the Marvel universe, is just as it should be. Guggenheim seems to understand the true nature of Frank Castle, which is brilliantly underlined in a scene where he is threatened with violence by the police officer interrogating him. With this, astute readers should realize that there’s a bit of the Punisher inside all of us. Frank Castle is simply a man who has given in to those dark urges of vengeance that dwell in the human psyche.
Just as Guggenheim seems to get who and what The Punisher is, so to does artist Leinel Yu, who has a style all his own. His gritty, almost scratchy, yet incredibly detailed pencil work is tonally pitch perfect for this dark tale crafted by Guggenheim. Yu includes some inventive panel layouts, such as incorporating the credits page into the story, and a particularly impressive flashback page with a seated Frank in the middle explaining events.
It is on this page that the colours of Sunny Gho really standout. The flashback panels are in a slightly different hue to the seated Frank. Just as Yu’s artwork is a perfect match for this grim and gritty Punisher tale, so too is Gho’s melancholic palette. His darkly subdued colour tones add the perfect weight to this foreboding story.
Overall this is an excellent first issue to a promising entry in the Punisher lore. My only criticism is that 2 issues just isn’t going to be enough. You often hear the claim that comics ain’t just for kids well…this proves it.
Story: 4.5 / 5
Art: 5 / 5
Overall 4.5 / 5
Patrick McAleer lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He spends too much money on comics and considers himself an 80’s action movie snob.
Catch him on twitter @RepStones