Review: The Punisher #2

I mentioned briefly last month that The Punisher #1 read more like a horror comic than a conventional action book, but I never said why.  Though The Punisher #2 is a much more conventional issue than the formally daring opener, that idea holds: not only is The Punisher seemingly being written as a horror comic, but as a horror comic in which the monster is the good guy, and everyone else is even worse.

Once again, the Punisher is wordless.  He’s a relentless force, illustrated almost like Jason Vorhees: he shows up on darkened streets, when you least expect him, a ghostly figure following you.  He’s only seen when he wants to be.  And nothing can stop him.  Rucka does not want us to empathize with the Punisher.  We should fear him.  We should respect him.  But we should not confuse what he does with the right thing.  It’s a fascinating way to get a simple point across.  The Punisher is effective, yes, but does that make him a hero?

As for Rachel Alves, she wakes up and remembers what happened to her at her wedding.  The page, bordered black and bloody red, where she remembers what happened to her is silent.  It is simple but gorgeously constructed, its’ limited use of colors making the panel stand out from the rest of the issue.  Checchetto and Hollingsworth aren’t give as much to work with in this issue as they were in the first, and they mishandle one awkward scene introducing the Vulture, but most of their work remains fantastic, a grim set of tropes appropriated from horror comics and used very, very well.

It’s interesting, how many of Rucka’s scenes in this book so far are wordless.  The Punisher has experienced loss beyond words; now, so has Rachel.  What will she do with that?  How will she channel her own rage?  She was a Marine Sergeant, of course – she has known violence.  But she married a doctor, she took his name.  Will she become like the Punisher?  Or will she find a way to go on living, to help people?  Her story is just one among many that Rucka has set up so far, and I can’t wait to see how they all play out.

Grade: B+

Cal Cleary


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