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Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review

Comic Books

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review

Marvel Comics sure has a real hard on for Punisher murdering [insert hero, universe, team here]. Love or hate these seemingly contrived plots, you can’t have a better writer at the helm; Greg Rucka is writing this one with a story directly continuing from his excellent Punisher series, there’s a good chance this series will be great, but as a single issue, is it good?

Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) (Marvel Comics)

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review

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It’s no secret Greg Rucka has been outspoken with his disappointment in Marvel the last few months. He’s publicly talked about Marvel as a closed minded corporation that gave him no warning he wouldn’t be writing Punisher anymore. Judging by how good the series has been it’s no wonder he’s pissed. The hero has largely been outside the purview of superheroes though, until now. Having said all that, when you crack this book open there are two possible outcomes to this miniseries: Either Rucka is going out with a bang and going to blow us all away. Or Greg Rucka is going to chuck out a story in disgust imbuing the book with his disappointment in Marvel.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
Always love to see Spidey shown in such an impressive fashion.

This story starts with, you guessed it, Spider-Man. He’s the go to for getting a tap on Marvel’s feelings on an issue. Let’s face it, the man is just gushing with emotion. That said, the story picks up where Punisher #16 left off, with Punisher on the run from the cops after his sidekick was taken in. Spider-Man it seems has caught wind of the cop killing and takes a beef to Frank.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
Spidey is a real power house in this fight.

This confrontation is the best part of the issue. Artist Carmine Di Giandomenico does an impeccable job showing the disparity of powers between Punisher and Spider-Man. It’s actually an ingenious move by the creators, since Punisher is technically the hero in this issue, to show Spidey as freakishly powerful in comparison to Punisher. They both come off as heroes in some sense, but Spider-Man isn’t usually shown as so inhuman. It shows ultimately that Frank is just a highly trained, albeit normal guy with limitations whereas Spidey is a radioactive beast that would be impossible for any regular human being to take on in a fist fight.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
Enormous ego much? He does have a point I suppose.

It should also be noted Carmine Di Giandomenico is a great choice as far as drawing the Avengers to look and feel human. They may be all powerful, but his fluid and natural design helps humanize them. Another artist may have drawn them as if they were gods that are invulnerable, but drawing them in this light helps convince the reader Punisher does have a chance. In the coming issues I’m sure it’ll be all the more obvious why he was chosen when we see Frank take out the big dogs.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
Never a good thing when prison isn’t enough. Can you say brain removal?

The pacing is also spot on in this issue. It’s clear writers have started to adjust to the 20 page comic of today as things move gracefully. There isn’t a ton of story here, but for what it’s worth there is a beginning, middle and end. The stakes are raised, it’s obvious Punisher is incredibly out gunned and we know Frank is going to convince the a------s that are the Avengers what he can do.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
Love having the old Tony back. Arrogant, party addicted playboy.

Rucka’s writing of the heroes is also spot on. You’d be surprised how much character assassination goes on in a single page these days. Using only 6 pages Rucka establishes the Avengers we’ll be seeing in the series; namely Thor, Spidey, Black Widow, Wolverine, Captain America and Iron Man. Each character gets a moment in to speak or react and each moment is masterfully written. Of course the images help to establish these characters, especially with so few panels to tell the story, but it’s a testament to Rucka’s characterization skill.

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review
And you will soon find out I’m sure!

My only gripe with this issue, aside from its brevity, is the opening panels which you can see here:

Is It Good? Punisher: War Zone #1 (of 5) Review

That’s a newspaper fluttering in the wind, that just so happens to fall within web shooter’s grasp of Spider-Man. Is this how Spidey gets his news? Does he usually wait for a paper boy wearing a newsy cap to deliver the morning paper to him before he can begin webslinging? You don’t think he heard about the cop killing sooner? I suppose it’s an adequate way of showing the reader Spidey knows, but it’s a tad silly. Maybe I’m being too hard on this element, especially considering we’re talking about superheroes here.

It’s a good possibility this issue will make it into the ComiX Weekly 10 dollar budget later today. It’s fun, interesting, and the writing doesn’t lie. It’s a bit short which means dollar for dollar you’re not getting a lot, but as an introduction to a Punisher vs. story I’m excited. Can you ask for anything more?

Is It Good?



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