Writer Nathan Edmondson has placed Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher, in jail and he's making it every bit as tense and interesting as it should be. Seeing as this chapter is essentially Frank getting the lay of the land, it's loaded with dialogue but this doesn't take a toll on the pacing at all. Instead, I felt every bit as interested in learning about the South American prison and its inhabitants as Frank was and it left me wondering what the vigilante do next. To make sure he has our full attention, the writer slowly built the hype and it all leads up to a very vicious and creatively presented fight. Needless to say, I'm stoked to see more of Frank's time in prison.
This issue isn't all about Frank, though. Edmondson breaks away from the prison location to chime in on Frank's supporting cast back in Los Angeles, too. While this plot isn't as engrossing as what's going on with Frank, the intrigue is certainly there and he leaves us with an effective cliffhanger. He's slowly developing one of these characters and I'm very curious to see what kind of future they'll play in this series. We've seen hints of a big development in the past with this character but now it looks like that transformation is speeding ahead.
Artist Mitch Gerads won me over with his handling of perspectives and characters in the first story arc and it's great to see this chapter's visuals are just as good. There's some cleverly handled panels and the layout for the big fight is very, very cool. It makes us feel just how confined and savage the encounter really is and pulls you right into the brawl. I also love how gruff his Frank Castle appears in virtually every panel. He's consistently shown as a guy you wouldn't want to be locked in a cell with.
The Punisher's time in the prison is captivating and that alone has potential to take up all of the pages, but the writer wants to expand the narrative beyond the prison and understandably so The two extra plots he begins to incorporate aren't bad by any measure and you can immediately see how they're connected, but, as far as we know, Punisher's off doing his own thing and these feel like two totally separate things. I'm sure they'll eventually become linked, but right now, but you can really tell that much of this issue is dedicated to setting up the new story arc's bigger picture and, so far, only Frank's tale is really gripping.
Immediately after finishing this chapter, I thought of Rorschach's great line. "I'm not locked in here with you... you're locked in here with me!" Having such a brutal anti-hero locked in prison with a whole bunch of scummy characters is loaded with potential and it's off to a really good start. The focus on Castle's time in prison is a total thrill and I'm legitimately curious to see how things will play out over in Los Angeles. Now it's just a matter of seeing how these plot points will intersect. Thanks to Edmondson's sharp writing and Gerads' expressive artwork, THE PUNISHER #10 is definitely worth picking up. And yes, it can technically serve as a jumping-on spot!