Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta, Dave Stewart, Marc Aspinall, and VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 13th, 2022
Frank Castle is determined to wield the Hand to finish up this war once and for all. However, the world’s current and most lethal merchants in extraordinarily effective firearms, the Apostles of War, are demonstrating to be the PUNISHER’S strongest adversaries yet. Plus, that doesn’t even account for Lady Bullseye and Lord Deathstrike employed to uncover the PUNISHER as an impostor and fraud to the throne of the Beast. But does Frank truly deserve the throne or was this all a simple charade from jump street? Let’s dive into the PUNISHER #4 by Jason Aaron as we discover what’s next in this absolutely diabolical new series.
PUNISHER #4 takes a few steps towards the eerie and creepy while providing fans with a ton of exposition that doesn’t add much to the overall story. After wrapping up PUNISHER #4, Aaron mainly spends most of the issue attempting to confuse readers as to whether or not Frank is really the Mighty Fist of the Beast. PUNISHER fans appear to get their answer as well as a cliffhanger that everyone saw coming since this series began. Can Frank Castle truly be “evil”? Can he truly be a “villain”? Anti-hero maybe. But bad guy?
Nevertheless, it felt almost like Aaron was muddying the waters on purpose. Images and panels of Frank’s past were thrown in that had no real connection to the story. A fight between Lady Bullseye and Lord Deathstrike was forced into the issue solely to add some action as well as a minor reveal that seems obvious anyway. Plus, the demented nature of the High Priestess was also on display and in full effect. However, what bothers this reviewer the most is how it’s going to be so extremely difficult for even the PUNISHER to bounce back from all the insane killings and murders by his sword.
As PUNISHER #4 ends, it appears that “maybe” (just maybe) Frank has come to his senses which everyone reading this story would assume had to happen at some point. Yet, I feel like Aaron could have done a better job transitioning that development throughout PUNISHER #4 and neglected to do so. It’s almost as if that was Aaron’s intent but he waited until the final three pages to get that point across. Instead, he spent a majority of the story proving whether or not the PUNISHER is really the Mighty Fist of the Beast which simply held the story back this week. Whether it’s legitimate or not, the foundation, as well as his actions, were already ironed out making it believable enough with the extra exposition that ultimately handcuffed this installment.
Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta continued their graphic, bloody display as this issue opens. But more importantly, fans can see the pure rage in Frank’s face as he slaughters so many in the opening pages. It’s not just the facial expressions on Frank but it’s also the way the background drops out in a bright red that paints the picture so deeply as to how far he’s truly snapped.
Fans, as you read PUNISHER #4, take the time to focus on Frank’s eyes. Not only will you see the trauma and pain that Saiz and Azaceta paint so vividly into the story but you’ll also notice the very instance when he practically wakes up to all this nonsense. Plus, the sheer demented nature of the High Priestess, from her crazy eyes to her wild smile, ignites the creep show and eerie nature of this series the most. Jason Aaron has developed quite the clever story BUT it’s Saiz and Azaceta who truly bring that frightening sensation to life.
PUNISHER #4 was probably the weakest issue of the series so far. Extra information not pertinent to the development of the story cluttered a majority of the issue simply to hammer home the point that Frank is indeed the legit Mighty Fist of the Beast. And, he’s finally realized how $&@$ed up and demented the Hand truly is. Yet, please don’t be fooled, readers. The PUNISHER is right there with them. The premise and idea of this series are still rather clever. However, this is a long con that needs to be worked through. The PUNISHER can’t just shake off all this killing and mass murder without working some &$@& out first.
He’s killed more than the average rapist, drug dealer, and sex trafficker. Where is Frank’s line now? And is Aaron going to explore all of this? Frank has fallen way off the wagon and I hope Aaron explores this psychological angle further after he navigates the Hand in this arc. Still, after PUNISHER #4, I got the sense that we are just going to be moving on past all of this rather quickly, which would be a real shame. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Nevertheless, PUNISHER #4 doesn’t take the time to elaborate on much and really doesn’t progress the story or inner dynamic with Frank any deeper than it should. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!