[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Punisher wakes up on an unnamed island in the Atlantic. Naturally, he runs into drugrunners who look to kill him and make a name for themselves. Before they get the chance, Hydra agents arrive to save Frank’s life. It turns out that it’s a coalition of Hydra deserters and Frank’s fellow prisoners in Bagalia. After Frank rests up, he decides to work with these other Bagalia escapees in order to find a way of the island.
Punisher #12 finally finds Frank Castle away from Bagalia, but he’s not home yet. He’s arrived in another dangerous place with people who know and hate the Punisher.
Punisher #12 draws a lot from the Rambo franchise as well as a couple of Green Arrow stories (though even those could be argued to be Rambo-inspired). It’s a viscerally enjoyable comic that also harkens back to older Punisher stories, when he spent a lot of time in South and Central America and Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s Punisher MAX: Born.
The comic brings many scenes of Frank hiding in the brush and muck with a bandana and a bow, waiting for his enemies to spring lethal traps or simply get into the right position for him to end their lives more intimately.
It also shows an unforgiving side to Frank Castle–surprising I know–especially when it comes to Hydra. Frank is reluctant to believe the Hydra deserters are truly redeemable, and it’s understandable given what their previous profession was. Functional Nazis aren’t exactly on the same level of petty thieves when it comes to severity of crime–and you’re left to wonder how much Frank can forgive himself for working under the Hydra Supreme Commander during Secret Empire.
Szymon Kudranski sticks with the comic on this issue as well, and his style continues to be gritty, disquieting, and leaning upon realism. There are many scenes that pay homage to the comic’s inspirations, particularly Rambo. There are some moments where the foreground and background don’t stylistically line up, and that can be pretty distracting. That aside, much of the book looks great, and Antonio Fabela’s color art is very strong.
Punisher #12 is another violent and viscerally enjoyable installment to the series. We get to see Frank do what he does best, and we get to see him grapple with the failures of his recent past. It’s a solid read, and I can give it a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
Punisher #12 comes to us from writer Matthew Rosenberg, artist Szymon Kudranski, color artist Antonio Fabela, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, and cover artist Greg Smallwood.
Final Score: 7.0/10