Art by: Steve Dillon, Frank Martin and Joe Sabino
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 6, 2016
I really don't have much of a background with The Punisher besides hearing Eric go on and on about his favorite Punisher story, Welcome Back, Frank. I have to admit, I usually tune him out and now I wish I hadn't because I've been given the task to read and review the new Punisher comic by Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon. The series has just started and while Cloonan's slower pace isn't what I expected at all, it has actually helped me jump in and get my footing pretty quickly. Cloonan is definitely more concerned with building her characters than riddling them with bullets, but don't worry, there is still plenty of the old ultra-violence to go around. So, how is the third issue of the series? Let's find out...
The issue opens with D.E.A. Agents Ortiz and Henderson showing up at the motel that we all know Frank Castle has checked into. Checked into doesn't mean he's there, however, and while he is off taking care of business, he's left something for the agents to show them that he is a bunch of steps ahead of them.
We then move to where that business is and see that Frank is busy setting up what we all know is going to be a kick ass firefight. That's when we see the biggest piece of shit in existence from last issue holed up with his cute little daughter. Believe me, you will hate the guy even more this issue and that is saying a whole lot.
It doesn't take long for all hell to break loose and the next couple of pages are filled with head shots, blood and bullets. Of course, Frank (looking so badass in his Punisher shirt) just mows through the mooks and then has his action movie moment. It really was a cool bit, but all I could think about is that unfortunate little girl.
That's when we see "Face" and a little glimpse at the Big Cheese who is hanging out with Olaf. There really isn't a likeable guy on the side of Condor, but if I had to pick, I'd hang with Olaf way before I even thought of talking to Face. That continues this issue as he visits the Exeter Asylum to see how the new EMC2 drug is going. Depending on which part of the cell bars your standing on, it might be going great or horribly wrong.
Back with Frank, the little girl (her name is Juniper) is following orders, but there is no way in hell that Frank is going to let anything here get close to a mission accomplished moment. This is by far the best part of the issue and it's not just because Frank does the right thing, but he also saves the girl. See what I did there...in this book, slicing a guys throat is so much the right thing!
I wish I could say that the issue ended with Frank and Juniper getting some milkshakes down at the malt shop, but we all know that isn't how things work. We do end with a cliffhanger that looks like will put Frank and Juniper in a head on collision with some very serious trouble.
I liked this issue enough, but it just doesn't feel like the book is moving ahead much. Becky Cloonan continues giving us some good character moments, but even those feel like little drops in a bucket. I want the whole bucket, not little drops! I hope it all pays off down the road, but it is starting to feel like the series is moving slower than a '64 Skylark stuck in some Alabama mud. Damn regular differential!
Steve Dillon does a good job, but he seems to be tied down by the fact that nothing really happens. While there was action, it didn't lend itself to big, impressive art. The best I can say about his art in this issue is that nothing threw me out of story.
Bits and Pieces:
As a new Punisher reader, I expected a little more over-the-top action, but instead, Becky Cloonan continues her slow burn, character driven story. That's not a bad thing, but after three issues, it's starting to feel like the story is moving way too slowly. Steve Dillon's art is good, but it feels like he is being handcuffed a bit by the slow paced story. I am going to continue with the book, but I can't say that I'm holding my breath waiting for the next issue.