Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta, Dave Stewart, Marc Aspinall, and VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 25th, 2022
To complete his crusade for good, Frank Castle is shaping the Hand into his own private battalion of invincible assassins. However, he’s going to do it the PUNISHER way. Let’s dive into THE PUNISHER #3 by Jason Aaron as we discover the secrets which lie in a tale from his past that he’s never disclosed to anyone before right now. And what might that be? Well, how about Frank’s first murder of course! Let’s take a look.
If you haven’t been following along with this PUNISHER run, I highly recommend giving it a shot. To any fan who has ever been even remotely interested in the PUNISHER, Jason Aaron takes the character to places he’s never been before and plows through to the next level. And whatever lines may have been blurred before about Frank’s vigilante side will no longer be blurry after this week’s PUNISHER #3.
Readers, Aaron gets extremely meta and incorporates some religious undertones as the story kicks off that add some much need flavor to the issue escalating the maniacal and frightening surrounding the issue. Yet, that’s not the only creepy vibes Aaron seduces readers with this week. Fans get a deep dive into 10-year-old Frank’s past as we witness his very first kill which provides readers with a foundation for why Frank is how he is. Nevertheless, I can see longtime PUNISHER fans not necessarily being on board with this new rationale. Why? Well, it takes almost all the “good” out of the character.
You see, people cheer for the PUNISHER because he kills people who “deserve it” according to their deeds. According to society, murderers, drug dealers, rapists, kidnappers, and pedophiles must be punished. And Frank’s manner of justice comes across as those vile people getting exactly what they deserve. Now, I’m not here to argue right or wrong nor am I stating my personal opinion on justice. My point is just that after you read this issue of THE PUNISHER #3, you’ll realize that someone has had their evil “hand” involved in Frank and possibly manipulated him from the very beginning.
Furthermore, Aaron makes THE PUNISHER seem even more twisted and from an incredibly young age. This premise pushes him more from an anti-hero to a sadistic killer. Plus, after the events surrounding this entire series, I wonder how the basic foundations of the character could ever go back to where they were before. Yet, with all I mentioned above, this reviewer absolutely loves the character alterations. I understand many diehard fans won’t appreciate it and may even find the changes crushing to the character. However, I’d argue that these updated characteristics make THE PUNISHER more up-to-date, raw, and understandable.
Readers, Frank Castle has and will always be a killer. However, everyone was “ok with it” because he murdered people that deserved it in our eyes. It’s just now Aaron flips the script, alters the backstory a bit, and now confronts the character on a more cerebral level insinuating a mental illness that’s cracked the character and pushed that drive of evil towards evil. Yet now we see that he could have, and currently can be, pointed in any direction at any time especially if it’s for his family.
Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta lead the charge this week in a violent display that’s not only graphic but provides the sadistic tones that drive the murderous rampage of THE PUNISHER. However, it’s more than just the blood splashes that cut a swathe through this issue of THE PUNISHER #3. It’s the lifeless, angry look on Frank’s face throughout his killing onslaught. Moreover, it’s the retro coloring in the throwback scene that places the story masterfully. Or, how about the drastic color changes and the deep blood reds that contrast and saturate each page.
Yet, even with all the above-mentioned, the subtle nuances this creative team sneaks into the issue are almost diabolical. From the smoke of a gunshot forming into THE PUNISHER skull to a Halloween mask of Captain America showcasing his childhood loyalties, Saiz and Azaceta craft a graphic masterpiece that perfectly blends with Aaron’s new vision of the character.
THE PUNISHER #3 opens the door to Frank’s past, twists some foundational aspects of the character, and may cause some fans to be irate over these alterations. However, I absolutely loved the changes and loved the explanations showcasing the murderous drive that Frank Castle had always amassed. Aaron takes THE PUNISHER from anti-hero to mentally ill psycho killer in just one issue. Some may argue he’s always been that way, which is a valid argument.
Nevertheless, Aaron shows you where it all begins this week and weaves together the Hand that’s always been in the background since day one. Yet, this PUNISHER history lesson wouldn’t be complete without the incredibly graphic artistry from Jesús Saiz and the rest of this creative that pushes this issue to its very limits. As I stated when the review began, I highly recommend this series and strongly suggest fans pick up the back issues and hop on board post-haste. You can thank me later. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!