The All-New Marvel NOW is heating up, and with it, Punisher, in his all-new solo series. It’s about time, since we haven’t seen him in his own series for over a year. In this iteration, Frank Castle has relocated to Los Angeles, and has been given a few new friends — a flirty female beat cop, the wise old coffee slinger at the dinner he has made his new hang-out, and a local armory officer willing to bring him the munitions he needs for his one man war on the drug lords. Otherwise, he is the same Punisher we’ve come to know and love, an unpredictable, sadistic executioner of the guilty.
At the start of this series Castle is facing down some drug runners in the La Tovara River in Mexico, part of his search for the top players in Dos Sols, a drug cartel bringing their illicit wares into L.A. Unbeknownst to him, he is also being tracked by a three person para-military group called the Howling Commandos. In the first few pages they are seen making the rescue of a war prisoner look easy, thus implying they are elite and possible a match for Castle.
The title of the book is “Momento Mori,” or in English, “remember that you will die.” Castle takes a skull off the drug runner, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Danny Trejo. Later, in a bit of sloppy story telling, he is informed that the skull is a Momento Mori, carried as an ever present reminder — as if Castle, who wears a skull on his work shirt, is unaware of its implications.
Picky storytelling peeves aside, this issue, written by Nathan Edmonson with art and colors by Mitch Gerads, marks a good start to the new series. With the exception of a couple odd elements, such as the afore mentioned Momento Mori, and the out-of-nowhere appearance of his new cohorts, the story is entertaining and visually charged.
Gerads’ art is appropriately dark and gritty for his subject. He did the coloring work as well, using a pallet that begins at dark and goes darker, successfully capturing the feel of the character and story. Even in the sunnier scenes, in broad daylight, the colors spectrum is suitably muted. IN fact the only bright spots in the book are the explosions and fire, which is as it should be in a Punisher book.
The cover art is a stunning teal and white sepitone of Punisher, machinegun in hands, looking over the L.A. skyline which is filled in with palm trees. A street map of his new city fills the space behind him like the veins of a city about to run red with the blood of the wicked. For that matter the dark teal kind of reminds me of blood too, the deoxygenated sort that hasn’t made it to the heart yet. That’s where this book is. It’s just starting out, but you can tell there is going to be a lot heart.
Punisher (2014) #1, written by Nathan Edmondson with art by Mitch Gerads, was released by Marvel Comics, February 4, 2013. It has a Parental Advisory. USR $3.99