The latest volume of THE PUNISHER is slowly giving a little more depth to Frank Castle's new supporting cast, but honestly, this book shines because it highlights Frank doing what he does best. It's all about the anti-hero shooting very, very bad people and justifying why these terrible individuals deserve to be in Frank's crosshairs. It isn't really bringing anything new to the table -- this certainly isn't the first time Frank has been forced to face someone with powers -- it's just doing it all very well.
This time around, Nathan Edmondson kicks up the pacing as Dos Soles begins to execute its lethal plan. We get a swift reminder that the Howling Commandos are still hunting Castle and we see Sammy begin to change her ways, but really, this chapter's all about showing off Electro's powers and having Frank take aim at some goons. It may not offer too many new details about the A.I.M. plot, but the exciting pages turn this into a quick and incredibly enthralling read. Who doesn't enjoy seeing Frank fire at gang members or toss grenades at their cars? If you're one of those people, then I seriously have no idea why you're reading a Punisher book in the first place. On top of that, the cliffhanger doesn't promise anything new, but it's still completely thrilling and one of those moments that makes you beyond anxious to see what'll happen next.
I'm loving Mitch Gerads' pages. First and foremost, the focus on offering unique panels is more than transparent and it's most definitely appreciated. Little things like switching to the perspective of a nearby camera or showing the process of how Frank takes aim (as lightning cracks across the night sky behind him) and then switches to the view from his gun's sights is such an awesome and unique approach to the Punisher's world. The visuals are every bit as tactical as the vigilante himself and successfully make us appreciate Castle's methods. Lastly, pretty much every single scene with Electro generates some truly standout panels. They're vivid and full of spectacle, yet the colors never feel overbearing. Those panels are packed with energy. Oh, and isn't his cover ridiculously cool, too?!
We know the gang is being manipulated, but it's still a little tough to swallow their plot. In a world where characters like Thor and organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. exist, it's difficult to believe anyone could be crazy enough to think several united gangs could take over a major U.S. city and then hold their own against the variety of super intelligent and powerful heroes in the 616 universe that would come to remove them from power. We could chalk it up to arrogance and stupidity, but it's still a little difficult to accept. Also, a minor gripe: we're still being treated to a very, very slow burn with the Howling Commandos.
Edmondson and Gerads simply get the Punisher and continue to give us what we want to see. Sure, the story is moving a little slower than expected and a lot has yet to be answered or expanded upon, but they're producing a creative look at the way Frank Castle operates. The artwork is cleverly executed and, while it does move a few plot pieces forward, this latest issue basically exists to help us admire just how good Castle is at what he does. THE PUNISHER takes what we've come to expect from Frank and does it quite well. We've yet to really build a strong emotional connection to the supporting cast or get some of the finer details behind the villainous plot, but you know what? It's still a totally entertaining issue and oozes such a cool atmosphere. To top it off, the final page is guaranteed to make you pick up the next chapter.