The Punisher, Volume 1 by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure about this series. I loved the first movie and hated the second (I'm totally excluding the very first movie with Dolph Lundgren, which was execrable), and I am not 100% sold on the idea of the Punisher. I like some vigilantes, such as Batman and Daredevil. I can understand what drives them to use force and violence in the cause of justice. In the case of the Punisher, his justice is very final and brutal. He doesn't kill innocent people, but if you're a violent criminal, you're fair game.
I decided to give this a try because I have read other work by Greg Rucka, and I figured this character would be in good hands with him. My conclusion is that I was right that he would do a good job with Castle.
Castle's motivations are completely understandable, and he doesn't come off as a sociopath or someone who has parted entirely with morality. Instead he is a fatal solution to the devastating disease of crime. With criminals of the sort in this book, I think Castle is probably necessary. I'm not saying I condone lethal violence in real life, so let me make that clear.
This story arc features a young bride whose entire wedding party (including her husband) were murdered. She survived and has to deal with the aftermath of losing everyone. Castle goes on the hunt for all the men who committed the savage mass murder. The survivor turns out to lead to a cabal of organized criminals who are even worse. They know the Punisher is on their trail and he won't stop until he's Punished them all. They take some measures to see that he is unable to get his work done, but they have underestimated how determined the Punisher is to 'punish' criminals, like the ones who savagely murdered his innocent family.
The artwork is good. While the imagery is violent, it's not over-the-top and too graphic. The movie Punisher: War Zone is an example of how excessive violence can be depicted in the wrong way, and stands in sharp contrast to the first movie, which was also violent, but certainly not shlocky about it. The artist has a way of capturing motion in an extremely vivid way that feels real time. The depiction of the wedding massacre was done in a way that was transmitted the horror of the situation without being gratuitous or exploitative. I liked that particularly violent scenes are given soft focus. While there was some gory imagery, it wasn't over the top.
I like the look of the Punisher. His spray-painted shirt and his slightly flyaway black hair. The rocklike expression that reveals little and inspires fear in his prey. It takes talent to depict a character like the Punisher without him appearing wooden. Instead, his face is a mask that hides so much emotion and thought, but most of all, sheer, adamant determination.
I'm glad I gave this series a chance. I really liked this book and plan to read more by Rucka. I'm not sure I'm ready for Ennis' incarnation, but we'll see.
View all my reviews