THE PUNISHER #5
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Penciler: Steve Dillon
Colorist: Frank Martin
Inker: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: September 21, 2016
Plot: Frank Castle is on a mission to stop a new growth enhancement to artificially create a new type of super soldier. However, when too much of the drug is consumed, it causes people to become too aggressive and go crazy. Will the Punisher be able to stop this new threat from getting out into the black market?
Story: The Punisher is a very straightforward story with a focus on Frank going after an underground organization trying to create a new enhancement drug to sell to whoever will buy it around the world. Issue 5 picks up with Frank moving in on the main compound where the drugs are being created, home to the current main antagonist, Face. The story in this book has felt pretty standard to this point, with the Punisher tracking down his foes and slowly climbing his way towards the head of the organization. While it has been enjoyable to read along as the vigilante goes around taking out different bad guys, there seems to be a lack of depth to all of the characters; Frank isn’t a man of many words, which is fine, but it would be nice to learn more about the supporting characters that will be featured in most issues.
There has been some introduction to DEA agent Ortiz, but she hasn’t been fleshed out enough to really make readers care about her. She is a good agent who doesn’t seem like she will go against her morals, but there isn’t much more to know about her character through five issues. Now that Ortiz is directly involved with the Punisher it seems like readers will gain more insight into who she is and what she stands for, but for now, there was only a sliver of confrontation between the two.
It’s not that Ortiz needs to be fully developed overnight either, but if the book has a main character who isn’t using much dialogue and doesn’t narrate the story, then supporting character development is the key to making things work. It seems like going forward, the book is going to have the Punisher and Ortiz working together off the grid, which will hopefully develop the relationship between the characters in the future. This also brings up the question of how much the evil organization, Condor, will be revealed and what the full motives of Olaf are. The Punisher creates a lot of commotion with the villains and currently there is a nice amount of plot going on with who is betraying who, but the full story is still being revealed.
Art: The art in this book does a great job with the action sequences, which is a big portion of Punisher related books. Frank operates through action not words, which means there should be a lot of big explosions and pretty unique death scenes. Dillon has done a nice job with the penciling and setting up the scenes, but Frank Martin has really brought them to life with the color choices.
The two have added in a very cool stealth element to the book that really shows off the Punisher’s skills. Martin has colored some of the steath scenes really well, adding in silhouetted panels (as seen above) that use great background choices like the sunset to illuminate the shadow that Frank Castle becomes. This is where the art plays a big part in telling a story; when you have a character who operates through action, the art brings everything to life.
On top of this, Dillon and Martin have absolutely nailed their tension build up panels and the big half or full page reveals. Scanning the sequence of panels really works well in The Punisher and the artistic team has done a nice job in selecting the specific way they want to communicate what is going on in a scene. The art really gives The Punisher a stealth and spy feel because it’s a straightforward concept that needs the artwork to operate.
Verdict: The Punisher is only on issue 5, so it’s still in it’s infancy and setting up the bigger picture. It would be really nice to get to know Ortiz on a much more personal level and discover her background, which seems like it is coming now that her and Frank have actually crossed paths. The art does a great job with big reveals and action scenes, which make the book fun to scan, but when the story develops a little further and the characters are given more personality, this book should be very good.