Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover art by: Jesús Saiz
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: July 13, 2022
Punisher #4 plants the seed of doubt when Ares and the Priestess of the Hand have a heart-to-heart chat about their mutually favorite killer, Frank Castle. What you will learn just may SHOCK you!
Is It Good?
Punisher #4 takes a (potentially) bold step by taking the [pieces of the arc so far that have garnered the most criticism (e.g. retconning Punisher’s origin), and introducing a seed of doubt that suggests all is not as it seems. Are readers in for a bait-and-switch? We shall see.
The highlight of Aaron’s story is the sheer merciless brutality he injects into nearly every character. Ares, naturally, sows seeds of bloody conflict everywhere he goes, treating his craft like the CEO of a thriving business. Ares would be amusing if his actions weren’t so horrifying.
The Hand’s Priestess is possibly more devious than Ares, and at least as dangerous in how she confronts Ares when he pays an unexpected visit. They don’t talk as a god to a mortal, but a god to a respected colleague, and you feel the stakes of the story rising simply through their conversation.
The most intriguing highlight of all is the possible acknowledgment that Frank’s memories that drove him to become the Fist of the Beast may not be on the up and up. This series’s main criticism has mainly focused on the retcon of Punisher’s origin and the way that retcon makes Punisher a less interesting character. This issue casts that retcon in doubt, and if Aaron can stick the landing on a big reveal, he may just elevate this series to something special. However, if the reveal turns out to be a cheap bait-and-switch, that’s a surefire way to disrespect an audience, so we shall see.
The art is still very good in this issue. The violence is brutal, the conversations are dramatic and intense, and the panel compositions are gorgeous. That said, using two artists – one to reflect Frank’s memories and one to reflect the present – is jarring because the art styles are so radically different. Azaceta’s style is sketchy and rough, so when placed up against Saiz’s polished style, it’s unpleasant.
About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.
Bits and Pieces
Punisher #4 builds the stakes, amps up the brutality, and plants seeds of doubt for a possible game-changing issue in the series. The pacing,m character-building, and drama are set on high, but the jarring shift between two radically different art styles leaves a sour taste.