Punisher #5

Story by
Art by
Marco Checchetto
Colors by
Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

That darn Greg Rucka and his fantastic knack for writing books I enjoy reading. No matter how worthless I might deem a character, if that character has one scene in Rucka's hands, I'm interested. Rucka had me reading "Wolverine" years back. He got me hooked into Batwoman. Now the magnificent bastard has me giving a damn about the Punisher.

When this series was announced, it seemed like a natural fit. Rucka's writing would be perfect for Frank Castle's mission. I'm not sure why this was going to be set in the Marvel Universe as Rucka would certainly be able to do so much more without the restrictions placed upon him there, but nonetheless, Rucka's writing would match up nicely with Castle's mission. For me, personally, this was oil and water. Rucka is one of my top five, maybe even top three writers. Punisher is a character that should be done with his story. Especially in the Marvel Universe. Rucka makes it work, though. The Punisher is serving a purpose, the Marvel Universe is swirling around him, and this issue gives it all a little bit of a breather.

Taking place a hundred days after his battle with the acid-spewing Vulture, this issue of "The Punisher" finds the cast of this story celebrating Thanksgiving in their own special ways. Rachel Alves is out of the hospital and is knocking back the drinks with Norah Winters. Detectives Clemons and Bolt have their own loved ones to be with. Punisher gets a visit from a neighbor kid. There's a lot going on in this issue, including a peek into the organization that set things in motion and sparked the Punisher's latest foray into meting out justice.

Marco Checchetto's art is gritty and perfectly suited to this character and to Rucka's writing. With the exception of the continued overly bright bloodstains, Matt Hollingsworth matches Checchetto note for note. The duo makes the sterile meeting room in the Midas Building stuffy and disconcerting. The blustery winter evening outside is an all-too-accurate visual approximation of the frosty weather waiting to descend upon New York, while the dingy, musty Lion's Head Pub is so perfectly depicted you can almost smell the spilled beer that is certainly on the floor.

This book boasts the perfect creative team perfectly suited to this character. Five issues in and I'm still on board, ready, willing, and waiting for more of the adventures of the Punisher. This story is a nice interlude, but the real tale is still chugging along underneath it all. Rucka gives the reader and the characters a chance to take inventory and to set their sites on the next task at hand. It's going to ramp up soon, and if these five issues are any indication, it's going to be damn good.

The youngest member of my local comic shop's crew didn't know much about Greg Rucka. I gave him "Keeper" to read over the summer. He gave it back to me cursing me for giving him a reason to know about -- and want to read more from -- Greg Rucka. This week when I went to the shop, he handed me the latest issue of "The Punisher" and said, "This is a great, great issue. Best 616 Punisher issue ever." I think you're right, my friend.

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