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Punisher: War Zone #2 Review

5

Black Widow takes on Frank Castle in the latest issue of this five-issue series.

The Good

Although The Punisher's name may be in the title, the character doesn't really make an appearance in the comic until nearly halfway through the issue. By no means should that deter you from getting this comic book this week, however, since it's an absolutely phenomenal second issue to this mini-series. The issue opens with a focus on Rachel Cole-Alves who has been imprisoned for the murder of a group of people. If you hadn't read Rucka's previous run on PUNISHER you may not really understand what's going on as the events that transpired in that series led up to the PUNISHER: WAR ZONE book. In a nutshell, Frank Castle helped Rachel Cole-Alvez enact vengeance on the people responsible for the murder of her husband. Now, Frank Castle is on the run and Cole-Alvez has been imprisoned and is taking full responsibility for the crimes.

If you're looking for a thriller and a suspense story that will leave you wanting more, then look no further than this series. The story starts with a focus on Cole-Alvez and swiftly moves to center around Black Widow and her search for Frank Castle. The way the story unfolds is really great because of the way that Greg Rucka plays to the strengths of each individal character. While it's clear that Frank Castle may be stronger physically than Natasha, she's still faster and more agile than he is and can therefore put of a serious fight. I also think that Rucka does a solid job portraying the character in a more serious light. She's been asked by Captain America to find Frank Castle (not the easiest man to locate and take in) and she demonstrates she can do that effectively. It think there's definitely something to be said for the portrayal of Natasha's character in this issue, and I wish that we could see more of this in other comics.

Yet, this isn't a comic about Natasha, it's a comic about The Punisher vs. The Avengers and Rucka makes that very clear, not only in the way that he introduces other characters into the story (the scene with Wolverine and Black Widow, for example), but also in the way he closes the story, which teases the reader with who Castle will have to go up against in the coming issue.

The Bad

Aside from a few moments where I didn't feel the art was very polished, I'd say this is another incredible issue that is absolutely worth a look by anyone who is a fan of either the Punisher or the Black Widow. Or if you're just looking for a great story.

The Verdict

I love this series, and I definitely love Rucka's take on such a complicated character like Frank Castle. There is no black and white with him, and the tone of this story is far more serious than other stories at Marvel right now. I think that Rucka balances suspense and thrill with the superhero genre very well, and that's what makes this comic and this series so interesting and fun to read.

18 Comments
Posted by longbowhunter

I loved Natasha and the Russian cops conversation in the bar. My favorite thing about Rucka's take on Frank has been his insight into how the police and other people not of the superhero community see him.

Posted by judasnixon

Dear Marvel, You should kidnap Greg Rucka, and force him to do an ongoing title. He'll be mad at first, but I'm sure he'll get over it. Just give him oatmeal cookies, and some warm milk. Maybe a back rub?

Posted by CircularLogic

@judasnixon: He did do a Punisher ongoing, it got cancelled in october from lack of sales. That's why War Zone is happening now, to wrap his plot threads up.

Posted by judasnixon

@CircularLogic: Yeah, I know. Rucka was planning to leave to do his own thing at Image. I was just being stupid.

Posted by Cap10nate

What a fantastic issue. This is as good as anything that is on the shelf right now.

Online
Posted by MadeinBangladesh

@judasnixon said:

Dear Marvel, You should kidnap Greg Rucka, and force him to do an ongoing title. He'll be mad at first, but I'm sure he'll get over it. Just give him oatmeal cookies, and some warm milk. Maybe a back rub?

Posted by Lightburst

the fact people weren't buying Greg's Punisher run stumps, me it was so good the man is amazing.

Posted by Super_SoldierXII

I liked the fact Wolverine acted more in character with regards Frank Castle. He wasn't a hypocrite, gave Frank a heads up because, well, he agrees with what's he's about and shares the ideology as shown in him being the leader of X-Force.

Posted by roboadmiral

While the book is very serious, there's almost a sort of meta-humor present. It kind of pokes fun at some of the notions of superhero morality, particularly their view of the Punisher as a murderer. He kills human traffickers, pimps, gun runners, and drug dealers and he gets called a murderer for it, but the Avengers are too busy having cosmic adventures and getting in dust-ups with the X-Men to pay them any mind. If the Punisher weren't around those criminals would still be running around. It really puts into perspective how ludicrous the ivory tower the Avengers sit on top of is.

Posted by kid Apollo

loving Frank with a BEARD! i know a lot of people dont but as a guy who rocks a beard, ive gotta give some love to characters that do as well.

Posted by VictorVonDoom_1

Hell yes. This issue was badass. Clearly showed Black Widows spying skills. I cannot wait for the next issue, man, it seems like Thor's up to get a crack at bearded Frank.

Posted by sparty-dbq

I'm hardly a lawyer or anything, but doesn't pleading guilty to murder usually take the death penalty off the table?

Posted by vortex1212

I loved how Frank handled Widow and can't wait to see what he'll do to try and deal with thor!

Posted by ThanosIsMad

@sparty-dbq said:

I'm hardly a lawyer or anything, but doesn't pleading guilty to murder usually take the death penalty off the table?

Nope. You may get a lesser sentence like life in prison if you plead guilty, but that doesn't mean that pleading guilty will save you from lethal injection. Especially with the body-count of Punisher Jr.

Posted by SavageDragon

Loving this series. I was a huge fan of Ruckas Punisher run before this, like someone said before me he really does a great job capturing the world around Frank. People sometimes agree with what he does especially some police and characters like Wolverine.

I like how there was a slight nod to Garth Ennis Punisher Max series in this issue. One of the best Punisher Max arcs was the "Slavers" where Frank goes up against human traffickers from Moldova and warns them never to come back to the states or he will come and kill them. Rucka gave a quick nod to that when Black Widow saw the remains of Slavers in Moldova. This issue was great. I really wish Checchetto would do the interior art and not just the covers. On one panel they forgot to draw Black widows face in...

Overall I love Ruckas Punisher this issue was sooooo much better than the Thunderbolts with Punisher in it.

Posted by thatlad

I loved the first issue's characterisation of Spider-Man so glad to see Rucka do the same with widow. She's too often used as a plot device or kick ass female sidekick. Looking forward to reading this, I hope the fight is balanced. Tasha might be a superspy but frank is special forces and been constantly developing his skills against major villains.

Not sure how this plays out against other avengers. any Wolverine fight I'll compare to daken who killed frank in the list (but had hammer support). A cap fight wouldn't make sense because of civil war, as soon as frank raises a fist it'll bring poor characterisation. Any pretty much every other avenger should stomp him

Posted by BurningBlaze

I can not wait til this comes out in trade :D

Posted by redscare

This mini has some smart writing that doesn't deviate from the core of the characters involved, the art is pretty good, and for the first time in years I'm really looking forward to the next issue in a Punisher title. Given what's setup for his next encounter, it should prove very interesting.