REVIEW: ‘Punisher War Journal: Brother,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Punisher War Journal Brother #1 - But Why Tho

Punisher War Journal: Brother #1 is a part of a series of one-shots published by Marvel, written by Torunn Grønbekk, art by Rafael T. Pimentel, colours by Matt Milla, and letters by Cory Petit. This is part of an ongoing story arc where Punisher is running the Hand. In this issue, a group of the world’s most elite crime families has teamed up to kill the Punisher, paying the public for tips. 

This issue has a similar structure to classic Punisher stories, bouncing between focusing on Castle himself and those trying to take him down. It is a brilliant tactic for setting up a threat that the reader is more aware of than the Punisher himself. The opening scene develops a status quo for the issue, explaining the rules of the comic.

It isn’t long before it’s put to the test and such an explosive character heavily tests these rules. A slower pace at the beginning of the issue is quickly scrapped once the adrenaline kicks in. The battle is enormous and multi-faceted, increasing in scale with every page. The carnage could almost be expected from how the alliance was constructed. The hidden villain is not hard to guess, especially with the way his identity is obscured, but it is still a great addition to this arc. The conclusion of the battle is brutal and definitive.

Punisher War Journal: Brother #1 superbly adds layers to a character that is often as clear as it comes. Frank Castle is this never-ending train of destruction, plowing through every criminal he finds. That has not changed, and when they are hunting him down it is almost like he enjoys it. But there are a few elements in this one-shot that were exciting to see. One is a genuine understanding that some crimes have context. He can spare lives if he chooses to, especially if the person is young or being coerced. There is also concern and surprise I noticed when someone shows a level of evil even he is not used to. And there is always that notion that Frank Castle is as bloodthirsty and as creative with his killing as those he exterminates. One of his tactics in this book was extremely disturbing, highlighting that he is a monster too.

The art is a fantastic mess. When needed, the line art is clean and pretty, with a brilliant blend of line weights to add intricate details. The attention to these details is jaw-dropping at times, especially on computer and phone screens. In the shadows, you can see the brush strokes that give the darkness a fluidity. Then, when the violence erupts, it is this sprawling mass of blood and gore. The application of blood is expansive and intense. Punisher remains in focus and clear, even through the fire and the bullets. Pimentel cleverly plays with angles and perspectives to display creative forms of death-dealing. The injuries, particularly in the final phase of the fight, are skin-crawling and uncomfortable.

The colours are also superb. Milla’s ability to lower the contrast and brightness but still keep the details of the line art visible is stunning, using the light within the scene to denote the shadows. There is the occasional use of unnatural shades that help indicate a change of location and it is both effective and brilliant. The lettering is very clear and the SFX fantastically channels the high-octane action.

Punisher War Journal: Brother #1 is a brilliant approach to the character. It is quite humorous that the comic opens like a Bourne movie, tracking the protagonist down through technology as he moves across the world. But then it is as if the Punisher part takes over and it becomes this brutal bloodbath. That unrelenting appetite for killing is what sets Frank Castle apart from any other action star, and I dare say no one does it quite as well as he does.

Punisher War Journal: Brother #1 is available where comics are sold.


Punisher War Journal: Brother #1
5

TL;DR

Punisher War Journal: Brother #1 is a brilliant approach to the character. It is quite humorous that the comic opens like a Bourne movie, tracking the protagonist down through technology as he moves across the world. But then it is as if the Punisher part takes over and it becomes this brutal bloodbath. That unrelenting appetite for killing is what sets Frank Castle apart from any other action star, and I dare say no one does it quite as well as he does.

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