When I looked at the credits of this book I was inspired. Dillon knows his way around Punisher, I don’t think that anyone can deny that. “Welcome Back Frank” and all the storylines that Steve has done with Garth Ennis instills some trust, but then I opened the issue and all that good will dried up fast.
In this issue we are dealing with Condor, a military backed drug operation that has ties to Frank Castle’s time in the Marines. We are walked through Frank’s first encounters with the mercenary group, and given more insight into Olaf, an old military commander who has broken bad. Interlaced with the flashbacks are the struggles of D.E.A. agent Ortiz, who is closing in on Condor and dealing with the loss of her partner Henderson.
Ortiz’s search for revenge is cut short, as her supervising officer removes her from the case, after he deems that Ortiz is “getting too close for her own good.” (Ugh!) We even get the tired troupe of asking for her gun and badge. (Bigger UGH!) The story-line with Ortiz is tired and feels tacked on. This is a Punisher comic! I want Frank, huge guns, bigger explosions, and a lot less talky–talk. Make with the BOOMS people!
This was a complaint I always had with Ennis. He would fill out issues with unnecessary side plots that never really moved the story along. Unless you are dealing with characters that directly interact with Frank and reveal something about his character or motivations then I could care less. But that’s just me, I tend to lack patience.
If you focus on anyone other than Frank in a Punisher comic, than please build up the bad guy(s). Show me why these S.O.B.’s deserve to die in the most gruesome of fashions. Why have they fallen into the crosshairs of the world’s deadliest vigilante? Some drug running military buddies come off as weak sauce. Make the villain worthy of the hell that Frank brings with him. I need conflict that begs to be resolved. Instead I’m left with a plot that feels more at home in a Steven Seagal movie, or an action vehicle for JCVD.
Final Thoughts: Clunky dialog, poor plotting, and a serious lack of attitude hinder this title from standing shoulder to shoulder with its peers. While Dillon may carry the art chores in this issue, the same great artist can’t cover up for all of the mistakes in Marvel’s latest offering of Frank Castle.
Final Grade: 2 Stars
Story: Becky Cloonan
Art: Steve Dillon
Colors: Frank Martin and Lee Duhig
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit