Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta, Dave Stewart, Marc Aspinall, and VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 27th, 2022
Frank Castel was surprised attacked by the Hand. However, Frank later discovered that the attack was merely a test to see if the PUNISHER was actually the long-awaited Fist of the Beast! After passing their tests and accepting their position, Frank now leads the Hand in stopping criminal organizations from terrorizing the world with their high-tech weaponry. Or so he thinks… But, why did Frank agree to this? He has to know the Hand is bad news. Well, the Hand promised to resurrect his wife from the dead! So, how could he turn that down? Let’s dive into the PUNISHER #2 by Jason Aaron to see what’s next for this new era of Frank Castle.
I think I’m going to take a different perspective than many as I review this issue. At first glance, I can understand why many PUNISHER fans will be frustrated with this comic. You see recently, Jason Aaron has been rewriting a ton of MARVEL COMICS lore. Many aspects of the history involving the AVENGERS have been rewritten, as well as THOR for that matter on the horizon. Heck, Aaron is in the process of rewriting THOR’S origin come July while Donny Cates appears to be doing the very same at this very moment. Granted, PUNISHER #2 doesn’t rewrite Frank Castle per se, but it does twist an intriguing aspect into his backstory as a youth that provides dark insight into his corrupted past.
From my perspective, the angle Aaron takes seems a bit more gritty and makes Frank seem a bit more sadistic. By the end of PUNISHER #2, Aaron makes Frank seem more evil than ever before and less of a vigilante. Aaron amplifies the fact that he’s a cold-blooded killer and makes the PUNISHER more authentic while being surrounded by this almost mythological assassin group. The twists in Frank’s youth may alter how longtime fans distinguish their beliefs about Frank Castle, but I absolutely loved it. To me, it also showcased how $&@& up a vigilante with a gun truly would need to be. Nurture is important but sometimes the nature you’re born with becomes the true driving force behind your deeds and desires.
Plus, if you take the time to truly think about his backstory, it reconnects Maria and his family as the only thing in his life that ever saved him. Maria saw the best in Frank and was able to save him from the dark path he was venturing down. This readers, is why Castle went postal when his family was gunned down. This is why the rage you see and feel in PUNISHER comics is so valid. Under the surface, Aaron uses PUNISHER #2 to not only change a bit of Frank’s past and future, but he simultaneously pieces together where the fury and rage came from and why. Sure, his wife was gunned down but some of it was naturally inherent.
Many people have lost loved ones, including those involved in Special Forces. However, Frank’s trip down revenge for his family never stopped even after he tracked down his family’s killers. My point is: Aaron does a great job of intertwining his story with a new backstory that not only promotes the current run but better explains the rage and raw vengeance that always explodes off the pages surrounding the character.
Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta provide fans with some incredibly sharp and vibrant art that truly makes this issue surrounded by death come to life. The illustrations are extremely graphic and capture the conflict masterfully. Plus, it’s Saiz and Azaceta who provoke the changing mood and tone of Frank Castle (young and current) so well. Even the scene where Frank and Maria are making love shows little nuances and characteristics that provide readers with depth and brevity to the story.
Readers, the bullet wounds are still there showing fans that something’s wrong with Maria, Frank knows it, but goes along with it throughout the romance. It’s the art team that elevates Frank’s love for his wife while simultaneously exuding the eerie nature of what’s truly happening around this narrative. Moreover, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how insanely violent and bloody PUNISHER #2 truly is. So, if graphic comics are your jam, hit this one up post haste.
I’m on the fence as to how hardcore PUNISHER fans will take the issue. Sure, they’ll be excited to get a PUNISHER series back BUT Aaron alters some minor details in his past that take away many aspects of this dark anti-hero that make him more sociopathic and downright evil. Many have argued if he’s truly a hero or a villain. Well, after seeing Frank’s youth in this issue of the PUNISHER, as well as his current state with the Hand, I’m leaning towards a psychotic killer who at one point had a grounding compass named Maria. Once Maria was taken away from him, the powder keg was blown wide open.
On the other side, many readers could come across as angry that Aaron had been changing some backstories of characters as of late with more on the horizon. Yet, after reading PUNISHER #2, I can’t help but think it just makes more sense while ushering in an explosive new development in the character that has been there for years. PUNISHER fans, I’m all in on this series and find it sneaky good. I highly recommend new and old PUNISHER fans alike grab this issue and put this series on their pull list. Plus, Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta provide fans with some of the cleanest and most graphic art that compliment this series so well. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!