April 18, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: The Punisher #1 (March, 2022)

The Punisher's war on crime gains some new allies.

OK, normally, I wouldn’t touch a Punisher series with a ten-foot pole.  I find the character often a one-note sort of character when handled by lesser creators, where the most interesting aspects of the book is less what it says about Frank Castle the man and more how he goes about his one-man war on crime.  Some of the best Punisher runs I’ve ever seen tended to involve creative ways for the Punisher to, you know, punish people.

But then I saw the latest series was being written by Jason Aaron, and I can’t think of an instance where I didn’t at least like his work.

Issue:  The Punisher #1, March 2022

Writer:  Jason Aaron

Artists:  Paul Azaceta and Jesus Saiz

The Plot:  Frank Castle’s war on crime is no longer a one-man show.

Commentary:  Actually, first thought:  Frank Castle’s distinctive skull symbol is gone for this series, replaced with a new one that fits his new role in-story, but at the same time, I do have to wonder if the reason Marvel did that is because of all the people who have unironically embraced the skull logo in a wide range of ways.  Frank Castle’s original creator has spoken out against that, arguing that Frank is basically not a role model, and even Frank Castle himself expressed that sentiment in an issue of one of his comics.  So, yeah, it makes sense to me that the comic book Punisher would drop the logo at the first opportunity.  Arguably, it isn’t even his skull anymore, having been repurposed as much as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes when he pees on various things.

But what about this story?  Why did Frank ditch his classic skull logo for a completely different one?

Oh, that’s simple.  He’s the new war leader of the Hand.

Yeah, this is Aaron’s big twist in the Punisher mythos.  Why would Frank Castle join, let alone lead, the Hand?  Sure, their ninjas will gladly fight any and all comers in Frank’s war on crime, and having a whole army of killers at his beck and call means Frank can take on even bigger threats than usual, like the religious nut weapon dealers at the start of the issue who pray to a god who seems to like violence and wear very distinctive Greek-style helmets…yeah, I wonder who their patron is…and also to bring him other, lone criminals who escaped justice so Frank can personally execute them.  His reach is now global, and the Hand is more than willing to do what he wants.  It makes him a lot more powerful and arguably a lot scarier.  One Punisher is enough.  A Punisher with an army of ninjas who will gladly die to fulfill their missions is something else.

Oh, and as for why Frank signed on, well…let’s just say I’m surprised it took someone this long to try this plan.  Sure, the Punisher’s adventures are theoretically more “grounded” than most Marvel characters, but still.

What is that thing?  Eh, think about it, hypothetical reader, and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but it was done rather well here.  I may have to take up reading a Punisher series.  Who saw that coming?  Not me for one…

Grade:  B+