Frank Castle is a man on a mission; been that way for some time. His goal is simple, if somewhat general – take down the bad guys that are too insignificant for the super-powered and too powerful for traditional law enforcement. Recently that mission took him from New York to LA and ultimately to a Costa Rican prison before he was able to make any real progree in taking down the remaining head of Dos Soles , the leader of a particularly ruthless drug cartel.
Before I go any further, I need to say something; if you haven’t been reading Edmondson’s and Gerads’ run, you’re really missing out. These two do military-themed characters exceptionally well (see: The Activity) and their work on The Punisher is no exception. The attention to detail is great and the idea that Frank is more expert soldier than unhinged vigilante translates into both the script and the artwork.
That said, this issue felt anti-climactic. We’ve been following Castle as he made his way back from Costa Rica over the course of several issues, all while being tracked by the Howling Commandos, and now that he’s finally back stateside, I’m not really sure what happened here. The way that the earlier issue ended, and with the way the other fights in this run have gone, I just knew I was in for a knock-down, drag ’em out brawl between Cap and Frank. Well, eh. The fight was ok, but as clever as the TKO was, I still felt a little cheated.
The preceding three issues were phenomenal at building suspense – the hotel battle that led to Castle cutting a deal with the Commandos, Sam finally realizing she’s been within arm’s reach of The Punisher all along – but this issue really doesn’t go anywhere. However, it does so in a way that makes you believe that something major is just around the bend, on the next panel, on the following page, and then….nada. Well, that’s not completely accurate; there is a very significant bit that occurs late in the book, but even that seems like something of an afterthought.
I’m sure things will pick up again in short order and this was just a necessary break in what has been almost non-stop action in one of Marvel’s better books. So, even though I expected more, I’m not overly disappointed. Only slightly.