Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Punisher Annual #1
Remender, Pearson & Stewart
The Punisher is pushed to the limit by a couple of the Hood’s cronies and then by Spider-Man. It’s an odd choice to involve an Annual so intimately in the regular continuity and the regular series’ current arc, but that is what’s done here. The comic is a fairly self contained story and works well. I’m not sure much changes coming out of the comic from what the comic began with, but it’s still an entertaining in its own right. I would think this story is for the completists as it doesn’t seem to be essential to the development or resolution of the main series’ arc.
After a nice recap page, the comic starts out with two women using some evil verbal instructions to control some veterans in therapy. The annoying thing here is that the characters and their powers aren’t really introduced here at all. It’s not hard to understand that these characters speak a line as a command and their prey carries out the command explicitly ala Preacher’s powers. However, to have no character names attached to the two women is frustrating. Eventually their names are put in print: Letha and Lascivious. The ladies kill off the vets to lure in the Punisher.
Eventually the Punisher proves impervious to the voice command powers and he battles them on his terms. However, they run into Spider-Man and Letha and Lascivious decide to give Spider-Man the command to kill the Punisher which sets into motion a completely different battle.
The Punisher shows some restraint with Spider-Man as he doesn’t actually want to kill him. However, you would think if Spider-Man really wanted to kill the Punisher he would have no problem doing so. The fight is good but you can’t help but question the length and outcome based on the individuals involved.
Eventually the Punisher figures out how to defeat Spider-Man without killing him and how to stop the women. The comic ends without any sort of cliffhanger making it a self contained story.
The artwork is probably the highlight of the comic. The fight scenes are over-the-top and loud. The character designs and expressions are also extremely exaggerated making the comic feel alive and action packed. It’s definitely more for the mature reader with the violence and the revealing female outfits, but it works well with all of the action.
Obviously the trapping with any Punisher story is that his character needs to be able to kill his prey or have an exciting exit. Pitting the Punisher against anything super-powered is dicey and this comic does an adequate job with the female villains but definitely leaves something to be desired in the battle against Spider-Man. We all know both the Punisher and Spider-Man will leave a fight with each other alive, but executing in a believable way seems almost impossible.
I enjoyed the comic because it had plenty of action and some clever little nuisances in it to set it apart from just another Punisher one-shot. The story made sense despite having no prior knowledge of the Hood or other issues in this arc. The extra page count helped with the $4 cover charge as well. However, I definitely felt this issue is for those that are following the current Punisher series and want the complete story with regard to the Hood. If you are looking for an interesting Punisher one shot you may want to give this one a try.
3 out of 5 geek goggles