Since the events of SECRET EMPIRE, Frank Castle has been trying to make amends after serving Hydra Cap. That path of vengeance/redemption has been helmed by writer Matthew Rosenberg, who’s done some great work. That work continues in this new series and PUNISHER #2 sees the repercussions of Frank taking his war public!

Frank Castle Takes On The Marvel Universe

This series is a natural extension of the previous series, where Nick Fury gave Punisher the War Machine armor. Fury’s mission for Frank: to hunt Hydra and eliminate with prejudice. Now that Frank went rogue, Nick has cut him off from that tech. We all know how single-minded Frank Castle is in his mission, and shots were fired in issue #1 figuratively and literally. Frank Castle publicly killed the Mandarin in full view of the UN Council. Mandarin was there representing the interests of Bagalia and Hydra.

That tentative alliance between Zemo and Bagalia is now at risk. This forces Zemo to hire outside supervillains and mercs to find and kill Castle. At the same time, Castle has been methodically hunting Hydra agents in the open, chasing and killing two in Times Square. This leads to a manhunt not just with the NYPD, but with Nick Fury and a few street level heroes: Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil. A few creative combat techniques buy Frank some space to escape to the subway, only for him to be trapped between Daredevil and the Hand!

Frenetic Pace Pays Off

PUNISHER #2 Page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

In some ways, it feels like a combination of two cult hit films, THE RAID and THE WARRIORS. Frank makes his way onto the subway trying to escape roving groups of people trying to capture or kill him. That subway escape is very reminiscent of the 1979 cult movie featuring a gang from Coney Island trying to get back to their home turf after a get-together gone awry.

The endless gauntlet of enemies also brings to mind THE RAID, another cult hit movie from Indonesia, about an elite squad taking down a criminal-run apartment complex. The action is frenetic in that movie, and with the constant stream of enemies Frank has to face, from Hydra to NYPD to Heroes for Hire to Hand Ninjas, the story’s pace matches those films and feels just as exciting. Matt Rosenberg is doing a great job making this a fun, exciting story.

The one minor drawback is that, for newer readers who have no idea who the Punisher is, all they see is a unrelenting human killing machine. That can be a cool premise in and of itself, but I can see people who want to see a little more depth being turned off. To them, I suggest reading the previous series, also written by Matthew Rosenberg, before jumping into this one.

Pseudo-Realism Sets The Mood

PUNISHER #2 Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The art team of Szymon Kudranski and Antonio Fabela set a tone with their work, evoking the real world with a photo-referenced style, and then giving it a grittier, more noir-like color scheme. The color scheme is reminiscent of books like Bendis’s DAREDEVIL or the work of David Mack. Also, Fabela’s colors deliver a level of grit, and people expect that from characters like the Punisher.

Kudranski’s pencils also evoke a unique effect. The photorealism gives us the real-world feel of actual police pursuit and real land marks. That detail makes it feel like this could actually happen. Of all the Marvel characters, the Punisher is the most real-world plausible. He doesn’t need a super soldier serum or billion dollar armor or a magic hammer to be a real person. He needs a murdered family and a vow to kill every criminal scumbag on Earth. That’s humanly possible, if potentially terrifying, in the real world.

Final Thoughts On PUNISHER #2

With another bold statement from Frank, and enemies all around him, it’s interesting to see what Frank’s plan is — if he survives the hordes of enemies in his face right now. Will Frank Castle live to finish Hydra off? Everyone is certainly making it hard enough for him, and that’s the draw of the book. Matt Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, and Antonio Fabela have done a great job hooking readers. The new series is an exciting and riveting addition to the lore.

PUNISHER #2 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, and Antonio Fabela
The Punisher continues his mission to destroy Hydra, but has to fight his way through the NYPD, deadly mercenaries and Heroes for Hire!
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Punisher is hunter AND hunted!
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