- Written by: Jason Aaron
- Art by: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azacta
- Colors by: Dave Stewart
- Letters by: VC’s Cory Petit
- Cover art by: Jesús Saiz
- Cover price: $5.99
- Release date: March 9, 2022
Punisher #1 takes the next step in Frank Castle’s journey as he’s brought in to become the leader of The Hand in their quest to become the perfect agents of death. As readers learn of Frank’s origin and his acceptance into The Hand, we soon learn there’s more reward in becoming the ultimate killer than anyone could have guessed.
Was It Good?
Let’s get this out of the way right now. I liked this issue. I liked it a LOT.
Aaron’s ongoing run on Avengers hasn’t been a hit with me or or many of my colleagues, but looking at what he’s done with King Conan and Punisher, maybe he’s simply not meant to be an Avengers writer because this first issue is hard-hitting stuff. Aaron doesn’t try to make Punisher into a sympathetic character or try to change him into something resembling a hero. In Punisher #1, Aron makes Frank Castle into a killer unbound.
“What does that mean?” you ask. That means Frank Castle no longer kills from the shadows, using whatever resources he can scrounge together. Frank Castle is “drafted” into The Hand and given access to a vast network of ninja talent to do his bidding. In other words, Frank Castle has been elevated to a killing warlord and his mission to do bloody revenge has been expanded to global and almost instant reach.
Of course, it’s not just about the killing but killing takes up a large percentage of this issue. The main plot revolves around a day-in-the-life of Frank Castle in his new position as he seeks to take down an International weapons ring. Watching the well-oiled machine that is The Hand go to work is fascinating, the flashback that shows how Frank was brought into The Hand is fascinating, and the twist ending that shows what motivated Frank to agree to be part of The Hand is a “wow moment”.
There’s a lot of bloodshed, and it’s carried off extremely well by the art team in this issue. The quiet kill moments from The Hand ninjas are executed beautifully, the hand-to-hand combat scene are brutal, and the moments where Frank has to do nothing more than be intimidating succeed perfectly.
It’s hard to say just yet where this story is going, but Aaron has me onboard.
Punisher #1 is a killer (*ahem*) first issue in this new status quo for Frank Castle. The action sequences are terrific. the violence is gritty, and Aaron makes Punisher an unapologetic killer. Everything about the character is elevated to a new level, and I’m onboard to see what happens next.