Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Syzmon Kudranski, Antonio Fabela, and VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: June 12th, 2019
Drugs, booby traps, explosions, arrows threw eye sockets, and the shortest game of SURVIVOR ever all in this week’s THE PUNISHER #12 by Matthew Rosenberg. Let’s jump into this one… but watch your step!
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Frank somehow is saved and looked after on some type of drug island in the middle of the ocean. However, Frankie boy manages to break free, get some help from a few Baron Zemo traitors, and manages to lure an army to the island in order to escape. After setting up jungle death traps for the incoming Hydra troops, Frank takes down the invading troops, kills almost all of the people who helped him escape, steals the gas leftover from the Hydra troops, and 13 days later arrives in Coney Island. It looks like the Mayor of New York may be next on the Punisher’s list.
The story was quick and filled with tons of action. If readers enjoy RAMBO, they will love this issue. From start to finish, Frank does his best John Rambo impression, fashions a homemade bow and arrow, and sets up death traps for the Hydra agents coming to the island making the overall issue simply fun to read.
In addition to the exciting read, this reviewer enjoyed some of the Ex-Hydra troops trying to reason with Frank about how some people change. Often times, the Punisher takes matters into his own hands and kills without remorse. He doesn’t care that you may change. It’s simply easier to end the threat once and for all. However, one of the troops on the island tries to tell Frank that sometimes people are forced to do bad things and that doesn’t make them “necessarily” a bad person. They are just trying to survive. This guy is attempting to explain to Frank that good and evil are gray whereas the Punisher views good and evil as simply black and white.
Matthew Rosenberg experiments with this idea to get readers to think for themselves about right and wrong while dropping the “possibility” that Frank may change his tune a bit. Normally, the Punisher is the judge, the jury, and the executioner. He has no remorse and doesn’t question his decisions afterward. However, this man is trying to get him to see that life isn’t as simple as Frank thinks it is and this was an intriguing addition to the issue by this creative team.
Next, Rosenberg shows the Punisher working with these guys in order to get a boat, gas, and a means off the island. However, once Frank gets what he wants, he shoots almost everyone down BUT the guy who is trying to reason with him. Frank was simply using the Ex-Hydra troops until he didn’t need them anymore. Rosenberg drew readers into the story with the idea that Frank “could” be changing but we see by the end of the issue that Frank appears to be the same old Punisher. So, get the $&@$ out of his way!
The progression from one issue to the next reasonably made sense but it may have moved way too expeditiously. We saw in the last issue that Frank’s plane went down and readers could only assume that he lived. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a PUNISHER book? However, in the course of one issue, Frank is amended by people on the island, figures out a way off the island, sets up death traps that should take even a large group of people days (if not weeks) to put together, steals a boat, and works his way back to Coney Island all in one issue. Really? How much time was Frank on the island? Shouldn’t that have been spelled out more carefully? Sure, the issue was fun but it came at the expense of the story. Who doesn’t love some good violence and bloodshed? This issue has all of that but it also contains an underdeveloped storyline to get the Punisher back to New York as quickly as possible. Rosenberg could have ended the last issue with Frank floating to the surface of the water and opened this issue back in New York skipping all of this and the story would still make sense. Point is, this issue wasn’t needed at all and came across as filler, which was disappointing to this comic fan.
This reviewer‘s biggest complaint about the issue was the art. The art was very dark and made it difficult to decipher characters faces. Throughout many of the panels, deciphering who Frank Castle was became harder and harder. Sometimes, it looked like Frank was bald and then the next panel later, he wasn’t. This reviewer enjoys details, especially in the faces, the characters expressions, and a more realistic tone to the art. Sure, the darkness sets the mood, but this comic fan doesn’t want to strain his eyes like he’s outside searching for his keys in the grass at night with a flashlight.
As cool as some of the fight sequences were, it was difficult to figure out who was killed, who survived, and how they died. The worst part is, Syzmon Kudranski and Antonio Fabela are more than capable of giving readers this thorough precision because there are glimpses of it throughout the issue. Almost every splash page or large panel where someone gets a knife to the head, gets choked out, or killed, Kudranski and Fabela are spot on. So, why can’t the entire issue look like that? Often times, darkened faces and eyes come off as a way to illustrate the issue quickly, especially when other panels are so detailed. This reviewer left the issue wanting more of the art from the splash pages and an issue that was a bit brighter and more colorful.
If you bought this issue looking for excitement, brutality, carnage, destruction, a cover page that has Frank Castle looking like Dolph Lundgren, and knives to the head, this issue is totally up your alley. It has everything this reviewer just mentioned above and so much more. However, if you have been following THE PUNISHER since the series started and were looking for a natural progression back to New York, a more realistic development and expansion of the story, and art that isn’t as muddy, dark, and unclear, then this issue may not be for you. Readers jumping into the story at this moment will be confused so don’t bother. However, next issue may be the perfect point for new readers and old fans to hop on board Rosenberg’s PUNISHER run. For now, this reviewer would simply skip the issue and start fresh with lucky number 13.