PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of PUNISHER #228 from Marvel Comics. Available July 25th, 2018, the creative team for this series features writing from Matthew Rosenberg, art from Guiu Vilanova, colors by Lee Loughridge, and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s review of…
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Since his introduction in Amazing Spider-Man 129, the Punisher has been a fan favorite of readers. However like many good, popular characters, the Punisher has been through his barrage of questionable stories. From turning him into a black man (Punisher v2 #59) to having him commit suicide and coming back to life as an Avengeing Angel (Punisher v4 #1) to his body being cut up into little pieces by Daken and reassembled as a Frankenstien’s-esque monster (Punisher v7 #11) to currently in an unspecified future being the Spirit of Vengenace, enforcer for Thanos and ex-Herald of Galactus in Cosmic Ghost Rider. The Punisher has seen his share of crazy plots so when he was given the War Mahcine armor during Marvel’s Legacy relaunches (Punisher #218), I really didn’t bat an eye. So here we are now, 10 months later and Punisher #228 hits the streets today. Not only is it the end of the Punisher’s Legacy series but also the end of the War Machine Punisher and a lead-in to his upcoming Marvel Fresh Start Series as Punisher #1! So as a final issue of sorts, I thought I would give my two cents on this.
Some very poignant questions, indeed. How and Why? Nick Fury, or well Nick Fury Jr., gives Frank Castle the War Machine armor to defuse a military crisis overseas. As usual, nothing goes right when Frank Castle is at the helm. After causing numerous international incidents, Fury tries to take back the armor and Frank says, “No!” See, Frank was a bad boy during Secret Empire and backed Hydra. He was even partly responisble for Black Widow’s seemingly apparent death at the hands of the Hydra Captain America. Now going rogue, he wants to make up for his past error of judgment. So teaming up with Winter Solider and Black Widow (yeah she gets better), they decide to hit Hydra where it hurts and go after Hydra Cap (now called The Supreme Commander) in his prison cell. However when they arrive, Baron Zemo and the Ghost have broken the cosmicly-created Steve Rogers out of prison. Be it said, Frank isn’t happy but in a host of heroes who have shown up to the prison break of the century, Iron Man has come to stop Frank and retrieve the War Machine armor.
Written by Matthew Rosenberg, who is no stranger to the Punisher and has written some fine books for Marvel in the past such as Secret Warriors, Rocket Racoon, Tales of Suspense, and the Resurrection of Jean Grey, to name some. He helped define the character Quake after her thrust into the limelight with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. Also, he is known for some of his independent work such as, 12 Reasons to Die, 4 Kids Walk into a Bank, Occupy Comics and, oddly enough, The Archies and other various Archie-related pieces for Archie Comics.
I have read 4 Kids Walk into a Bank and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have taken to Rosenberg’s methodology of storytelling. He also wastes no time getting to the bottom of his action. Punisher 228 is no different.
We begin with Iron Man squaring off with the Punisher War Machine. Frank quickly distracts Iron Man to go after Zemo and Ghost with his target. They take off in a helicopter. Castle makes the copter crash and goes down for the kill. As Rogers makes off on his escape on foot, Punisher is faced with Baron Zemo and the Ghost, who proves to be more of the challenge, as Ghost phases through the armor and shorts it out. But Frank doesn’t need fancy weapons to take. Zemo proves just as easy to take down. However before he can go anywhere, Castle is confronted with a battle jet targeting weapons at him. The pilot is demanding Castle step down and reliquish the War Machine armor.
As the craft lands, Colonel James Rhodes emerges…yeah…we were just as speechless. Don’t worry, just like Black Widow, Rhodes gets better form being killed by Thanos in the begining of Civil War II. You can find out all about Rhodes resurrection in Iron Man 600, and, well, Black Widow I may just write about that one soon if my Editor lets me. So anyway, Colonel Rhodes is able to speak to Frank as an officer to another officer, appealing to Castle’s sense of military honor and duty. Frank releases the War Machine armor and is taken into custody. As Frank is taken away, he sees the authorities have also apprehended the Supreme Commander, who boasts that he and Zemo have huge plans. Baron Zemo and Ghost are currently unaccounted for. As the prison transport with just Castle drives off, it is stopped down the road by Black Widow and Winter Soldier who want Castle. This is the end and lead-in to the new Punisher series begining next month.
Guiu Vilanova has been making a name for himself in the comic industry. His lists of works are rather dviverse between mainstream and independent titles. Some of his works include, The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, Weird Detetcive, Conan, and The A-Team to name some. His work on The Punisher would be his only mainstream work-to-date.
Where as his art I didn’t really care for. It has a tendency to include too many lines in his shading method. It almost comes across like animated squiggly lines. However, his layouts tell a flowing narrative. Never once do I have to sit and guess how one panel leads to another. His work, while not my cup of tea does indeed accompany Rosenberg’s words quite well.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
FANTASTIC! This issue really was a great read. It was fun, which is what comic books should be. The entire arc from start to finish is amazing. See, I was never one of the people who lost their shit over the whole Hydra Captain America incident, especially since it was explained with complete transparancy after the announcement. What Rosenberg has given us here is a form of epilouge/sequel to Secret Empire. Answering the question, what has happened to the Sumpreem Commander since we know he still exists in the Marvel Universe? I also truly enjoy armored charcters; Iron Man, X-O Manowar, Prototype, and The Guyver, to name a few. So when you throw the Punisher into a suit of armor, I’m going to be all over that.
Is it the quintessential Punisher? No, not by far, not even close. But it is different and it does have a begining, a middle, and an end. So fear not, next month it’s back to basics for Frank Castle as the Punisher as we all know and love. Just think of this War Machine arc as a way of Frank distancing himself from being a Hydra enforcer during Secret Empire.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Of course, I stand behind this. It has action – the fight between Frank and Iron Man, as well as with everyone else. It has some intrigue – as with what are the Supreme Commander’s plans? What does he have in store for Frank as he hinted at? It has some serious dramatic moments, such as when Rhodes talks Castle out of the armor. And finally we see Fury being the complete snake his father was – when Rhodes asks him about any intel on how Castle got his armor, Fury replies with, “We’re still looking into that” knowing full well he gave it to him.
This issue and everything since Punisher 218 is well worth your time if you want to understand how Frank ends up where he does next month in Punisher #1.
PUNISHER #228 can be purchased on ComiXology and available
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, July 25th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Matthew Rosenberg
Letterer – Cory Petit
Publisher – Marvel Comics