Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Trial of the Punisher #1

I'm fickle with comics. I adhere to no set genre and keep my expectations low, especially with the Punisher as he was my childhood favorite. Not just his regular monthly series, but the War Journal, as well, which was nothing more than gun porn for adolescent boys at the time. I would say that Frank Castle is still one of my reigning favorite comic book characters of all time, and it stings that he hasn't been gifted a regular monthly series of any import. At least not since he was written by Rucka and then brilliantly re-imagined by Ennis.

In the Trial of the Punisher: the People vs. Frank Castle, we have at least a holdover of hope that there are still quality Punisher stories to tell. To say that Marc Guggenheim's writing surprised me would be selling him short. My expectations were low given his most notable comics contribution is a producing and writing credit for the CW's Arrow whcih espouses melodramatic teenage drivel with attempts at high octane action and fails to make either very compelling. But I digress...

The tale here begins with Frank turning himself into the New York PD in Manhattan, along with a duffle bag crammed with the corpse of the assistant DA. His motives are unclear and he spends the remainder of the issue basically playing mindgames with both his attorney, the prosecutor, and the courtroom as a whole. Any action in the story is depicted in flashback and the meat of the story is spent on the trial. Really well put together, written with a panache and grasp for the mindset of the Punisher that has been lost on Marvel for a very long time.

As good and fun as Guggenheim's writing, the pencils from Leinil Yu are absolutely killer. His art style is at once gritty and covered in a sheen of grime as well as effortless and beautifully ugly. If #1 is simply paving the way for a brutal conclusion and some proper action in the finale to come in #2, I expect it to be stellar as well, and Yu an artist to watch out for, especially accompanying Guggenheim's excellent monolog and compulsions put on display here. Either way, I'd gush some more but don't want to come off as a bootlicking douche. Just read it.

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