Aerial knife-fighting is a lost art and, I would guess, an absolute challenge to write. That challenge is one that Greg Rucka gladly accepts in this issue as the Punisher is attacked by the new red-clad, acid-spewing Vulture.
Through default or design, I missed the previous appearances of this Vulture, so this was my first experience with the character and, quite honestly, I’m quite glad that the Punisher did all he could to get the character to shut up. Shrieking and squawking throughout the entire issue, the Vulture swoops in on the Punisher and flies off with him, quite like a bird of prey with an unsuspecting rabbit. The problem for the Vulture, however, is that this rabbit packs all kinds of weapons.
Unfortunately, Marco Checchetto and Matt Hollingsworth lose some of the details of the fight between Vulture and Punisher. Some of Checchetto’s angles and panel-framing choices seem to cut out some of the action or muddy up the details, while Hollingsworth has a tendency in this issue to make splashing water-like fountains out of what should be bleeding. I see what Hollingsworth is going for both with the blood and the Vulture’s spewing acid, in that he tries to give the fluids some translucency, but the final result on the printed page looks more like an experiment than a properly executed success.
All the same, the premise shines through: Punisher doesn’t take kindly to being carried off into the sky. He tussles with the Vulture and the end result is a story that is enjoyable and compelling. It wasn’t until I got to the last page that I realized how briskly the story moved along. This issue firmly puts both of the Punisher’s feet (along with his back, side, and shoulders) into the Marvel Universe. There’s no denying that the Punisher’s actions and interactions in this issue are going to have repercussions on the greater landscape of New York following this issue. Where he goes from here and how he gets there are going to be entertaining.
Rucka doesn’t just deliver one single story in this issue, though. He brings in the plotline of the bride who survived her wedding massacre from the first issue and also begins to analyze the characters of NYPD Detectives Clemons and Bolt. As only Rucka can deliver it, “The Punisher” has risen to the top of my must-read pile whenever it appears on the new comics rack, and it looks like there is no chance of it sinking back down.