Punisher is not one of the characters I follow on a regular basis, but I have kept an eye on what the character is up to. Advanced solicits and interviews with creators have piqued my curiosity a bit, and this issue is essentially #0 of the story set to begin for Frank Castle.
Absolutely out of his mind, steaming mad at dirt, Norman Osborn sends everyone and everything he has after Castle, and the end result in this comic is definitely appropriately warned against under the "Parental Advisory" sticker on the cover of this issue. Quite simply, Daken and Punisher engage in a true life-or-death battle. One of them lives. One of them dies. The story that details the end result is engaging and briskly paced. With no emotional investment in either of these characters, I was surprised to find myself compelled to follow the next events due to this story.
Romita's art is the perfect choice for a back-alley, sewer sludge-filled deathmatch between "Dark Wolverine" and the Punisher. Romita delivers a story filled with grit, grime, and gore, but he does so in a manner that is surprisingly graceful. People getting shot and sliced up never looked so good, especially covered in grit and sewage. With weapons, explosions, slicing, stabbing, lip-biting (and not in the way you would presume), dismemberment, and helicarrier bombings, this issue must have been a dream come true for Romita, since he makes the most of all of these elements.
With a twenty-three-page main story, this issue also features a sneak peek of "Punisher" #11 that contains the beginning of the next chapter of Frank Castle's adventures. Outlandish, yet strangely compelling, this next chapter -- at least the part that can be gleaned from the preview -- is steeped in unexpected Marvel lore. After all, did you honestly ever expect to see the Man-Thing appear in a Punisher comic?
As I already mentioned, I am not the biggest fan of the Punisher as a character. For me, the Punisher pretty much had his story told when Steven Grant and Mike Zeck handled the original Punisher mini-series in the 1980s. Everything after that failed to catch my interest.
This story, however, has piqued my interest in Frank Castle. I'm definitely in to see what happens next in "Punisher" #11. These "Dark Reign: the List" books have given me a chance to stretch a little and sample stories and characters I wouldn't normally think twice about. This issue, like the other "List" issues I've read, provides a nice point for new readers to begin enjoying some characters they normally wouldn't.