"Punisher" #14 is yet another example of just how effective an editor can be to the overall cohesiveness of a monthly title. While most of the credit for this comic should rightfully be placed on the shoulders of Greg Rucka, if Steve Wacker hadn't convinced Rucka to write this book and supplied the writer with an amazing array of reliable artists with similar visual sensibilities, this title wouldn't be nearly as compelling.
Mico Suayan, working on his second installment of the ongoing battle fought by Frank Castle and Rachel Cole-Alves, draws characters visibly influenced by comic greats like Joe Kubert and Jordi Bernet. The scratchy, cross-hatch shading to describe dimension on the characters' faces and depth in the environments surrounding them immediately connected with thoughts of Kubert's work, which has admittedly been on my mind a lot lately. Beyond sharing a similar style, Suayan does a great job laying out the panels and pages and, while his storytelling isn't on Kubert's level, it is certainly still very good. Rucka realizes this in many spots -- or perhaps he simply has grown accustomed to relying on his artists for this title to be extremely competent -- and is quite fine letting the artwork tell the story without burdening it with unnecessary dialog.
What Rucka chooses not to declare through words in this issue is the closure he provides to Cole-Alves. The Exchange ruined Cole-Alves wedding day and her life, stealing her husband and other family members from her. Since then, she's made her way to Punisher's side and is placed in a situation to exact retribution in "Punisher" #14. Rucka fills the scene with palpable tension and suspense, and then delivers on every note just as he has throughout this series. As an added bonus, Rucka also gives all the fans of the wider Marvel Universe a wink, a nod and something to cheer about as Frank Castle pays a small tribute to Marvel's web-slinging birthday boy.
As this series progresses, I find myself enjoying each issue just a little bit more. The creative team on this book is always top-notch, and "Punisher" #14 is proof. With Cole-Alves finding some resolution in this issue, I'm curious as to where her path continues. Without a doubt, Greg Rucka has a plan in place and the results will be fantastic. If you've missed the boat on this book, you're doing yourself a disservice. Correct that mistake and check this book out. Even though there's over a year of comics behind it, "Punisher" #14 is what every comic book reader looks for in their first issue of a title: solid art, great story, believable characters and lots of action.