Following a brief respite provided by an issue that focused on Detectives Clemons and Bolt, this issue continues from where it left off with the cliffhanger of “The Punisher” #6. No time has passed from the end of that issue to the opening of this one, but regular readers of the series have had a chance to absorb the character quirks and interaction of the detectives.
The spotlight now falls on Punisher and Rachel Coles-Alves who, with guns pointed for a killshot on each other, agree to a truce and walk away from the killings of eighteen members of the Exchange (the seedy organization responsible for the deaths of many at Coles-Alves wedding). Punisher and Coles-Alves do some recon work and pass time in their lives, where Greg Rucka again shows the Punisher preparing for battle in a singly focused manner. Coles-Alves likewise is preparing, but her reconnaissance is interrupted by Detectives Clemons and Bolt.
Rucka writes this book with a long-range tale in place, but every single issue has some gasp-worthy piece presented. There are also character moments, and an evolution in the characters that circle the life of the man formerly known (and erroneously still labeled by many) as Frank Castle. The stories in this series all intersect, and some are set to be more explosive at those crossover points on the Venn diagram than others. Eight issues into this series, there has been no shortage of the Punisher doing what he does best, but where Rucka excels is in motivating the Punisher and wordlessly telling the reader why and how the Punisher does what he does when he does it.
Marco Checchetto’s art is gritty, dirty and nasty, as it has been for all of the issues he has drawn for this series. The opening pages, silent as a snowfall, depict the ruthlessness of Punisher and Coles-Alves in almost clinical fashion. The bloodshed is not rendered in an artistic manner, and it is much more impactful for that decision. Checchetto doesn’t exhaust his detailed work in the opening scene of this issue, though. Throughout the story, from Punisher’s hideout to the joysticks on the remote control box for the leader of the Exchange’s deathtrap, Checchetto fills this issue with lifelike detail. Some spots are a little more rigid than others, but the effort wonderfully fleshes out the canvas and definitely puts the Punisher in a world that, believably, could be right outside your door.
This “Punisher” book, like the recently relaunched (and soon-to-be-connected) “Daredevil” series, has given me a new appreciation for the character while deepening my admiration of Greg Rucka’s ability as a writer. Like “Daredevil,” if you’re not reading “Punisher,” you’re missing out on some of the consistently best stuff that Marvel is putting on the new comics racks.