The Punisher #10

"Punisher" #10 delivers the second installment of the three-part "The Omega Effect" crossover with "Avenging Spider-Man" and "Daredevil." Not surprisingly, it's a great comic book with Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto doing what they do so very well for this character.

Rucka makes the most of this issue, auditioning to potential new readers by displaying the full scope of Punisher's motivation and dedication to his cause, even going so far as to depict some scenes and settings we simply haven't been privy to yet, like how Punisher gets his skull icon shirts. It's not mind-blowing, but it is character building and it serves as a nice peek into what passes for Frank Castle's private life. This is the first time we've actually had spandex-clad heroes spend a significant amount of time hanging around the pages of Punisher and Rucka makes the most of it. His Spider-Man is gabby and obnoxious, like the young child trying to satisfy his curiosity at the expense of a diligently working adult's sanity. Except Spider-Man is slightly more annoying on purpose and the adult in question just so happens to be the Punisher. Thus, the trend established in the first chapter of "The Omega Effect" continues as Rucka is coerced into having Punisher speak more in this issue than the standard set.

In the twenty pages of "The Omega Effect," Rucka never tips readers off as to the Punisher's plans or thoughts about his erstwhile allies or the situation they are placed in against Megacrime, the conglomeration of A.I.M., Hydra, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine and the Secret Empire. Additionally, Sergeant Rachel Cole-Alves and the running bit of her name being incomplete whenever anyone else addresses her, stands alongside Punisher and is presented with the opportunity to prove herself -- to Rucka, to readers and most importantly to the Punisher.

Marco Checchetto's art is nothing short of stunning. The artist draws a very real-world based Daredevil costume and puts Daredevil and Spider-Man firmly in the grungy underworld Punisher inhabits. Checchetto doesn't just stop with the main characters in this tale though. His backgrounds are richly detailed and substantial. You can almost hear the shocks on Punisher's van as Spider-Man lights on the roof. When it comes to Megacrime, Checchetto draws A.I.M. goons and Hydra footsoldiers facing off in a wonderfully fantastic image to offer up to fans of the Marvel Universe.

Although this is the middle segment of a three-part story, Rucka and Checchetto make it every bit as enjoyable and approachable as the opener or finale. The major difference here, however, is that the stakes are raised in this issue and the imaginary soundtrack music is reaching a deafening crescendo on the final page. This story is in high gear and there's simply no walking away from it now.

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