One of the things I've enjoyed about Greg Rucka's writing on other series is the long-term planning we've seen play out and that's exactly what we get this month with "The Punisher" #11. One of the early moments in current series of "The Punisher" was Detective Bolt getting credit for one of the Punisher's kills, and since being coerced into giving up information by way of payment. Here, that moment comes to a head as the police force finds out on page 2 of the issue. And what comes next? Well, that's part of the fun.
The majority of "The Punisher" #11 is told in flashback as we learn about a new Punisher sighting in Times Square thanks to the combination of the Punisher shaking Bolt down for information and the appearance of the zombie-raising villain called Black Talon. Like most super-villains in "The Punisher," Rucka and returning guest-artist Mirko Colak play Black Talon relatively straight. His zombies are gruesome, shambling, deadly creatures that are literally walking corpses attacking anyone in their path. There's a certain amount of dark humor in the scene -- this is after all a guy dressed partially like a chicken -- but both Rucka and Colak don't bring across the scene as "spandex crowd" but rather "lunatic with a deadly weapon."
It's the zombies I think Colak does the best job with, strangely enough. Colak's art is much cleaner than what we normally have on "The Punisher" (although like in "The Punisher" #9, I do think it works for this title), but in this case it helps provide a contrast between regular people and the zombies. They're so ragged and disgusting that they stand out as being out of the ordinary and nasty. In general, though, Colak brings Rucka's script to life well; I like the panicked look on Bolt's face as the zombies approach, or the worried look that appears once the dust settles. Colak's doing a good job as Checchetto's regular fill-in.
Rucka himself takes a path that you might not expect; instead of having the Punisher chasing down Rachel Cole-Alves with guns blazing after her betrayal in "The Omega Effect," we get a story that still follows up on that specific moment (the one part of the crossover that feels substantial) but in a more measured, careful manner. Well, not including the zombies. It's this deliberate pacing of "The Punisher" that makes the new series work so well; just like Bolt's lie finally getting revealed, Rucka is carefully spooling out this new plot thread for just the right moment to have the knot tied.
"The Punisher" is a consistently good series, and #11 continues that streak. I appreciated the end result of Bolt's encounter with the zombies and his subsequent outing to the police force; it provides a lot more story fodder for the months to come. This is a good example of a series that has found just the right pace, not only for collected editions but for the serialized format too. As always, "The Punisher" is a pleasure to read.