Punisher Dark Reign #1 (Marvel – 2009)

The Punisher, as a character and in his numerous titles, I can generally take or leave…. though to be fair Ennis’ ‘Punisher Max’ has a fair amount of superlative issues and storylines – but what else can you expect from Ennis? The man is one of the greatest comic writers out there – and although I cannot always get my head around what he is doing (like ‘Crossed’) there is no doubting he is a master of this art form.

But we are not here to talk about Ennis. I want to talk about Rick Remender, the virtuoso behind the completely tasteless horror porn ‘XXXombies’ for Image in 2007. Although that title seemed little more than alternative high concept (‘zombies meet pornstars’ in the 70’s!!!’) it was not without merit, and certainly, for me, marked out Remender as a talent to watch out for. So here is, with a big Marvel title.

How does he fare??

Well, he makes this issue, a kick off for Frank Castles experiences during ‘Dark Reign’, into a barnstormer with a superbly minimal plot. Castle is planning an assassination attempt on Norman Osborn. The only problem is, Sentry is standing between Castle and his intended victim. The cat and mouse that ensues is strafed with funny, sharp and smart dialogue – like Castle, in one piece of dialogue, referencing Sun Tzu and explaining Christianity as an excuse for hippies (you have to read it). The action is superb – visceral, frenetic and very enjoyable. Overall it is fast, funny, brutal. It is a great issue. I have high hopes for this series. Go Frank!!! Go Rick!!!!

Finally, I cannot end this post without applauding the cheeky use of the Spider man covers that heralded The Punisher’s entry into the Marvel Universe. Very nice….

Rick Remender and Frank Castle – a marvellous new Marvel Team Up!!!

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