[**Mild Spoilers Ahead for Punisher #2]
The Punisher guns down two Hydra agents in Times Square while Baron Zemo puts out a contract on Frank Castle. The NYPD goes after Frank Castle and chases him through the city. Plus, Nick Fury still wants a piece of Frank after the War Machine debacle, and he’s enlisted some help to stop the Punisher in his tracks.
Matthew Rosenberg is showing a knack for writing Frank Castle. After the massive change of pace that was the War Machine arc, we have return to form for the Punisher with a bit of a twist. Frank is back to the streets of New York, but he’s chasing down Nazis instead of mobsters and murderers. Plus, he has superheroes on his tail.
In short, it’s not quite the Punisher as he was, but it still carries itself like a back-to-basics change. Plus, I’m never going to complain about Frank Castle hunting Nazis, even if it is also a tidy way to keep Marvel from having to reckon with what the Punisher is.
That leads to a weird quirk of the issue. Nick Fury enlists some heroes to stop Frank, and they’re not the kind of heroes you’d expect to be working with Fury. Plus, one would think that they would be far more zealous to stop a madman with an arsenal than they seem to be in this comic.
Szymon Kudranski continues to an impressively detailed and pseudo-realistic art treatment to the book. Frank looks menacing and imposing, as he well should. The violence is brutal but a far cry from any of the MAX material from back in the day—not that I was expecting anything like that (if you’ve never read Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX, you should read Garth Ennis’ Punisher MAX). There are some moments in uncanny valley territory, but those are few and far between. Antonio Fabela provides some solid color work too, providing a stark balance between light and dark to make the scenes look more severe.
Punisher #2 is an enjoyably brutal and dark read. We get to see Frank square off with Hydra and superheroes while Baron Zemo plots and schemes from the shadows. It’s a solid comic and worthy of a recommendation.
Punisher #2 comes to us from writer Matthew Rosenberg, artist Szymon Kudranski, color artist Antonio Fabela, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist Greg Smallwood, and variant cover artists Mike Deodato Jr. with Rain Beredo and Mike Zeck with Richard Isanove.