Writer- Rick Remender
Art- Tang Eng Huat (pencils/inks), Lee Loughridge (colors)
The latest issue of Punisher continues the second story arc from series author Rick Remender, paired with pencils & inks by Tan Eng Huat. The story involves protagonist vigilante Frank Castle—the Punisher—taking on New York City’s legion of super-criminals, who are largely led by Parker Robbins, a.k.a. the Hood. The Hood’s vast supernatural powers have enabled him to resurrect 18 formerly dead super-criminals, who are then charged with killing the Punisher or returning to the grave. The resurrected villains include a baker’s dozen of ‘Z-list’ crooks like Mirage, Turner D. Century and Birdman who were murdered in a long-running Captain America series subplot in the 1980’s. Most of them are portrayed as simpletons with little but bungled bank robberies in common. Female members Letha and Lascivious step up as de facto leaders within the group. However, Basilisk and Death Adder have already defected, kidnapping former federal agent G.W. Bridge and coercing him into helping them track down the Punisher.
The conceit of the series—so far—is that the Punisher has shifted his focus away from purely human gangsters to super-powered scoundrels. Castle’s chief assistant is Henry, who in this issue starts chafing with his boss’ s monomaniacal focus on killing targets. A brief scuffle is abruptly stopped with an ultimatum by Castle, who means to kill more criminals before the day is over. The issue closes with a look at the Human Fly, an insect-powered villain whose mental faculties have clearly been drastically affected by his mutation. After the Fly makes short work of a group of policemen, the Punisher appears in the last panel, offering himself as a substitute for Spider-Man.
Author Remender has a good handle on Frank Castle, pitting him against costumed criminals on a regular basis. The magic-powered Hood has become as legitimate an adversary for the Punisher to overcome as the various Mob bosses that have come and gone since the Punisher’s adventures first became a regular series in the 1980’s. A subplot involving tension between sidekick Henry and Castle seems to be reaching a boiling point; something to keep a look out for in future issues.