Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta, Dave Stewart, and VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 10th, 2022
Is the PUNISHER indeed the Fist of the Beast and the predestined High Slayer of the Hand? Or is Frank Castle nothing more than a detainee of their lies? And if that’s true, and Frank is a prisoner, the Hand better get ready for the PUNISHER to show his true colors. Because no one locks up the PUNISHER and lives to tell the tale (or puts baby in the corner)! Let’s take a look at the PUNISHER #5 by Jason Aaron as we discover just how deep and how involved Frank really is in this plan by the Hand.
This week, readers get a backstory on the first meeting of Maria and Frank, as well as some more devious twists in the young PUNISHERS‘ life. And as each issue of the PUNISHER continues on, the horrors that made Frank Castle into who he is today become more and more frightening while simultaneously becoming less and less heroic. As much as fans have always thought of the PUNISHER as an anti-hero, I can’t fathom how anyone could read this series, let alone PUNISHER #5, and not see Frank as a straight-up, psychotic, killer.
Now, whether you like that angle from Aaron or not, it’s most certainly the picture we are being painted. So, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I like the PUNISHER as a villain. And readers have always juggled this idea with Frank. We’d say things like “They deserved to die.” Or “They’re evil anyway.” But is the PUNISHER any different? And that’s the question I feel like I continue to leave with each week… but I keep coming back with the answer “&&@& yes!” Aaron has painted Frank as twisted, demented, deranged, and an evil lunatic. Yet, the character has more layers than ever, has evolved more than ever before, and he has actually grown proportionally since Aaron’s PUNISHER series began.
As you would expect a PUNISHER comic to be, this issue is most certainly graphic. Yet, surprisingly not as explicit as they’ve been in the past. Nevertheless, the standout elements saturating PUNISHER #5 were the throwback renderings of a teenage Frank that came across as dated and retro in nature. The dark line work highlighted the twisted, teenage vibe that threw this reviewer deeper into the narrative.
Additionally, fans should take notice of the PUNISHER’S action sequences against the High Priestess as this art team lays the focus on each blade slice alongside Cory Petit’s dynamic lettering causing each slash to reverberate off the page. Plus, the lettering wasn’t overwhelming nor does the narration hinder any action or panel progressions causing more than enough space for the art team to showcase what they’re good at.
PUNISHER #5 was an interesting trip back to Frank’s past that revealed a few more violent wrinkles which helped develop the man we all know as the PUNISHER. Yet, this trip down memory lane for Frank has also helped readers discover a bit more character development that fortifies some questions many have had about the character for quite some time. The biggest problem many will have is how Aaron continues to paint the PUNISHER as more psychotic, deranged, and evil than ever before instead of the anti-hero punishing the wicked.
And sure, he is still punishing the wicked BUT his motives aren’t simply because his family was gunned down for vengeance. Now, the twist is so much deeper. I, myself, love the new wrinkle and feel it adds so much more depth to the character. However, I can see that many of the diehard PUNISHER fans may have a problem with this new status quo. I highly recommend giving this series a try! Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!