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"All-New Marvel Now!" Review: "The Punisher" #1!

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The most punishing thing about this relaunch of Marvel's vigilante in black "The Punisher" is the realization that after all the set-pieces and stuff blowing up, you could've read something less boring.

RECAP:

The book opens on what we'll consider a cold open; a confident and well-equipped band military unit extracts a target. They plan on heading home for R&R, but get another call.

South of the border, Frank Castle swims up from the depths to surprise a drug runner and his two armed guards. Some headshots and a blown-away hand later, he finds out the drugs are going to a man named Hector in LA. So, now is the Punisher.

Big Pun grabs a quick cup of coffee, flirts with a female cop named Sam, letting her keep the skull ring he pulled off of the drug runner. Then he meets his armory officer supplier, procuring some equipment. Later, some tear gas and some bullets find their way into Hector's limo, and he's handcuffed into Frank's small car. Hector doesn't want to talk, but a cigarette lighter to the neck gets him to reveal where his cartel, Dos Sols, is processing their stuff. Hector doesn't give Frank much of a chance to get to the top floors of the building and take out the bad guys, but Frank has a plan; use a bazooka and blow up the whole thing. For his trouble, Hector is blown up with the car.

The cops, including Frank's cop flirt Sam, investigate the resulting firestorm. She finds Hector's skull ring, as our military unit from the cold open appears. We find they're the current incarnation of the Howling Commandos, sent to LA to eliminate The Punisher. Continued!

REVIEW:

I'm not sure what the point of this book is. It's basically another Punisher adventure, one that doesn't struggle with the morality of what Frank does. He shows up and takes out bad guys, looking like an invincible badass. His advantage is that he isn't trying to bring anyone in or hide what he does, so he can show up to a building, confirm it's full of bad guys, and send an explosive into it.

Frank presents a truly unchallenged protagonist, and that's not interesting to read. At no point is he in any danger from the people he's trying to (randomly) bump off, and he never feels any guilt over his actions. Sure, Pun using a cigarette lighter to get an answer out of a hood is the kind of devil may care action movie set piece people love, but reread it. Then reread it again. It doesn't help what amounts to a pretty dull story. A small team of military-trained, government funded/equipped/authorized professional tough guys coming after our anti-hero will presumably provide the challenge in future issues, but this one starts with Frank swimming through alligator infested waters without a scratch.

Maybe this book will pick up in later issues, but I'm just reviewing the first issue. As it stands, this version of "The Punisher" is boring. There's plenty of tough-guy moments and 'splosions, but no story to prop them up. Check back later if you really want your fix of Frank.

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