I’ve been in the habit of reviewing this series every couple of issues, and last time — for issue # 4 — I mentioned that it was “the best issue so far.” Well, this one’s even better.
Artist Tan Eng Huat gives a very different kind of style to this book than we saw with the fantastically gritty Jerome Opena, but who better than Huat to draw the weird underworld goings-on as the Hood assembles the recently resurrected Scourge victims and prepares to unleash them on Frank Castle? Who better to draw the Punisher eviscerating Oscorp minions as the Human Fly and Turner D. Century partake in a demented post-resurrection feast? Who better than to draw any weird, off-kilter, trashy-fun Marvel comic? No one.
The conceit of this story is that the Hood has brought back the often-pathetic, mostly-obscure, not-really-missed third-rate supervillains that had been killed by the Scourge of the Underworld in the Mark Gruenwald “Captain America” run. The Hood — who, as I mentioned in the last review of this comic, is written better by Rick Remender than he has been under any other writer — has resurrected them, enhanced their powers, and given them thirty days to kill Frank Castle. If one of them succeeds, his life is extended. Failure means, well, as the Hood says, “thirty days is at least something, right?” The rules are clear, and there’s no possible chance at another resurrection clarifies the Hood.
Oh, and the Hood tells them all that the Scourge was actually the Punisher in disguise, just to give them that extra motivation for bloodthirstiness.
Remender deftly alternates between the Hood-holding-court scenes and the Punisher cutting a swath through the Oscorp holdings (the overall mega-plot of this “Punisher” series so far has been about the Punisher taking down the mighty Norman Osborn). Things get especially vicious in the finale, though not with the Punisher. The Basilisk and Death Adder aren’t going to sit around and wait for Frank Castle to come to them, and they’re particularly nasty when they take the initiative to stay alive more than thirty days.
Maybe it’s the addition of Huat to the visuals, but this book has replaced the on-hiatus “Ghost Rider” as the grindhouse comic of choice. It’s a pretty wild time, and it just keeps getting better and better.