War of The Realms: Punisher #2
From MAJK’s Coffee Corner:
War Of The Realms: Punisher #2 takes us on a harrowing trek through the Lincoln Tunnel led by Frank Castle (a.k.a The Punisher) and a band of violently conscripted convicts. The Punisher isn’t exactly a people person and his team building methods leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, the staff and patients of a low-income New York Hospital have no other options. Hardened convicts aren’t the most trust-worthy individuals and when they are facing a choice between being eaten by Hellhounds, and Trolls or being gunned down by the Punisher, being gunned down starts to look less frightening. The inmates vastly outnumber Frank, and in the thick of combat, it’s hard to keep your eye on everyone.
Spoiler Warning: If you have not read War of The Realms: Punisher #2 There May Be Spoilers Below
Publisher: Marvel Writer: Gerry Duggan Artist: Marcelo Ferreira Ink: Roberto Poggi
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg Letters: Cory Petit Cover Artist: Juan Ferreyra
War of The Realms: Punisher #2 Cover
Ferreyra’s standard cover was my choice for this issue. It’s a nightmare brought to life in terrifying detail. Ferreyra depicts a grotesque otherworldly horror on the cover of War of The Realms: Punisher #2. It looks like that creature from Stranger Things mutated and grew. Centered beneath its cruel fangs and barbs a defiant Punisher stands flanked by cowering prisoners. Frank Castle staring down certain death firing all the while is exactly The Punisher’s character. The use of illumination centering on Frank and dimming steadily as it expands gives the feel of encroaching death.
The Story So Far:
The Punisher isn’t a fan of the Avengers. He’s not on particularly good terms with any gods let alone the Asgardians. So, when the War of The Realms exploded into his city, he responded with his usual diplomacy. He chopped off the invaders body parts, shot them, and blew them up. In War Of The Realms: Punisher #1 Frank was battling a Frost Giant, an innocent family got caught in the cross-fire. Only the father survived. Frank brought him to the nearest hospital only to find that Dr. Baldwin was evacuating patients and staff. Seeing her plight, Frank conscripted a group of prisoners to escort the injured and their caregivers through the Lincoln Tunnel. Anyone who’s traveled the Lincoln Tunnel knows it’s a struggle to get through even when it isn’t full of ravenous Hellhounds, savage Trolls, and the like. On foot, with a questionable crew of protectors, The Punisher puts it all on the line hoping to save innocent lives.
War of The Realms: Punisher #2 follows events that occur after War Of The Realms #2 and before or possibly during the events of War Of The Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1. With the Avengers (Avengers #19) struggling with Malekith’s army of Dark Elves, Loki marinating in his father’s stomach, Thor trapped in Jotunheim, it’s left to Frank to take care of smaller, local issues like helping Dr. Baldwin evacuate her patients.
The Lincoln Tunnel is packed with hungry Trolls, slavering Hellhounds, and fire goblins. The prisoners Frank coerced into becoming bodyguards aren’t fond of becoming food. Fear is what Frank used to enlist them. When the fear of becoming Troll chow is greater than the fear of Franks weapons, things get dicey. Frank slips up and the prisoners leverage it. Now Frank’s facing a war on multiple fronts with a lot of helpless lives hanging in the balance.
Art & Writing of War of The Realms: Punisher #2
Duggan turns in another entertaining issue. So far, this miniseries is just what any Punisher fan could want. Duggan delivers a cohesive plot with a clear objective and keeps the pacing brisk. There’s a flashback bit that reminds us that Frank’s family is dead. This might seem a bit redundant to longtime Punisher fans but it drops in perfectly for new readers giving a clue there’s more to Frank without dragging into superfluous exposition.
The story is combat heavy, and savage which is consistent for the Punisher. War of The Realms: Punisher #2 is extremely brutal featuring a nasty bit of work that includes Frank intentionally blinding a Troll and threatening to leave him alive to hear his comrades being slaughtered. Mini-series tie-ins come with the temptation to toss together quick and dirty filler but Duggan crafts a solidly enjoyable series.
Kudos to Marcello Ferriera, Roberto Poggi and Rachelle Rosenberg who turn in an impressive performance given the extreme carnage, and graphic detail of the fight scenes. Rendering the proper level of grotesque creatures and splatter gore takes a team effort. The clean linework and atmosphere shaping color palette for a monster battle in a darkened tunnel is a tall order. This team stepped right up and knocked it out of the park. I cringed at least three times reading this issue.
Letterer Cory Petit is everywhere these days and yet he still turns in an attentive performance. Fonts are well chosen. With all the sound effects, flashbacks, internal and external dialogue, he could be forgiven for a short cut or two but there’s no sign he took one. The speech bubbles, sound effects, and narration integrate smoothly into each panel.
MAJK’s Age Recommendation:
Marvel is giving this a 12+ age recommendation. My personal recommendation is 15+ with that caveat that parents know their children best. For parents wary of protagonists that aren’t clearly good keep in mind that whether the Punisher is a vigilante, an anti-hero, hero, or a villain is the subject of debate. The Punisher’s backstory speaks of the darkness in all of us. The kind of darkness that pain and devastating loss creates. He embodies the desire for revenge on a visceral level. He epitomizes the primal rage existing in all humans. He is both heroic and horrific. Any Marvel comic fan can enjoy his books – I certainly do. That said, I offer strong caution to readers who are sensitive to depictions of things like dismemberment and torture.
War of The Realms: Punisher #2 Rating
Punisher Fan Rating: 9/10
Avg Comic Fan Rating: 8/10
War of The Realms: Punisher #2 is one of a very select few comics that I give multiple ratings because since Punisher first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (sometime in 1974) there have been multiple incarnations. From the many Punisher movies, The Punisher Netflix series, and numerous Marvel Comics versions of the character the Punisher has collected a stalwart following. However, The Punisher is ultra-violent, much like characters Venom, Deadpool, and Carnage, a fact the new series Savage Avengers will leverage.
Punisher fans are much like horror comic fans. They are less put off by graphic violence, and morally gray choices. Normally this would be my only rating but because War of The Realms: Punisher #2 is likely to be snagged by comic fans unaccustomed to Frank Castle and his savage tendencies, I list two ratings. That said, this comic is good for any fan of high action vigilante style books. Those sensitive to graphic violence should approach with caution.
Next Issue: June 26, 2019