PUNISHER #3 continues the rip-roaring chase of Frank Castle by pretty much every person possible in the Marvel Universe: mercs, Hydra, Nick Fury, street level heroes like Daredevil — everyone has a mad on for Frank Castle! Writer Matt Rosenberg wasn’t kidding when he titled this storyline “World War Frank.” The series has been a lot of hard-hitting action, and issue #3 is no exception to that pacing.

Devils to the Left, Villains to the Right

The issue continues from where PUNISHER #2 left off, with Punisher and Daredevil on a train surrounded by ninjas and mercs paid by Hydra to finish Frank Castle once and for all. Daredevil insists that Frank not use guns, which becomes a theme of this issue. The two beat down or brutally kill each of these men until they get a big hulking berserker, which is when we get one of those Frank Castle “creative” takedowns.

Ultimately, Frank himself is taken down and brought to a local NYPD precinct. The local cops quibble until Nick Fury shows up to take Frank into custody. PUNISHER #3 ends with an incredible cliffhanger as an old “friend” is reintroduced, just as Nick is about to get Castle out!

Frank Castle Doesn’t Talk About Feelings

Punisher 3-3
PUNISHER #3 Page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

PUNISHER #3, and the series in general, is not for people who want introspection and high drama. I mentioned the movie THE RAID in my review of the last issue. The non-stop action of that movie is definitely the vibe of this series. The non-stop fight scenes are classic Punisher. This isn’t a character that stops to smell the roses. He’s an aggressive killer of criminals. He’s also a creative killer, as demonstrated by his takedown of that big berserker type. Not only is he creative, but he’s single-minded when it comes to his mission. Nothing gets in his way. Not a train full of killers, not a do-gooder vigilante trying to stop him from killing people, not even being locked away. Frank Castle will find his way to his goal, and he will kill whoever it takes to accomplish his goals.

Punisher is built to appeal for the CALL OF DUTY gamers out there out of any Marvel characters. He may have been created in the 1970’s, but there’s a lot of appeal to the FPS community. Between his extremely violent tendencies and creative kills, it’s no wonder this particular character has endured. In a universe of radioactive supermen and gods of thunder, Frank Castle has seen a lot of mainstream success. People love the idea of a man who takes the law in his own hands and mows down their enemies. What is multiplayer FPS if it isn’t just mowing down everyone in front of you not on your team?

Rosenberg & Kudranski: A Killer Team

Matthew Rosenberg‘s star at Marvel is definitely ascending. Rosenberg has worked on high profile books like PHOENIX: RESURRECTION and ASTONISHING X-MEN. One could argue that the Punisher, with a series on Netflix and multiple movie adaptations, fits that same profile. Rosenberg keeps things simple and to the point: bad guys chase good guys, good guys fight back. Good guy catches not so good guy. The plot, while simple, is executed brilliantly. The tension of the battle on the train ebbs and flows, there are twists and turns, and then a gigantic obstacle at the end of that battle.

Punisher #3 - 2
PUNISHER #3 Page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A simple plot with excellent pacing needs equally excellent artwork to carry the story, and Szymon Kudranski delivers very good penciling work. The darker, murky style fits the mood of PUNISHER #3. It also reminds me of some of the artwork done in the PUNISHER MAX series that Garth Ennis wrote ten years ago, one of the most iconic PUNISHER runs in the character’s history. By the end of his run, Rosenberg could very well see his name with Ennis amongst those considered definitive Punisher writers.

Final Thoughts on PUNISHER #3

PUNISHER #3 is a relentless chase movie that only relents to throw another obstacle in Frank Castle’s way. “World War Frank” is shaping up to be one of the better Punisher stories in recent memory. The pacing, Frank’s motivations, and the guest appearances by the likes of Nick Fury and Daredevil make this an exciting book to read every month so far.

Rosenberg and Kudranski are delivering a classic Punisher story, told on a very large scale. Will Frank succeed in destroying all of Hydra? Probably not, Hydra has been around for decades, and there’s still the original Captain America to consider. How does he feel about Frank’s rampage? There’s also the appearance of that last character in the last page. The surprise at the end should make for some exciting moments in the next issue!

PUNISHER #3 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, and Antonio Fabela
Punisher and Daredevil team up in an exciting chase issue. The walls close in on Frank, and Rosenberg and Kudranski deliver an excellent issue, with a major surprise character showing up at the end!
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