It’s been a few years since I read Garth Ennis’ Punisher -- indeed, the last time I was a fan of the character was back in the early days of the his revival, when Ennis and Dillon were coming straight out of “Welcome Back, Frank”. After that, my interest waned as Ennis moved the character further and further into gritty realism that, while good, didn’t have the same appeal for me.
That’s why I’m glad to see Ennis and Dillon reunited on this series as if they’d never been apart. After last issue reintroduced the Gnucci family and former supporting character, Molly Von Richthofen, this issue really sets the plot wheels in motion. The sudden reappearance of Ma Gnucci at the end of issue #1 was a great moment, and we discover this week that it might not be all it seems. Molly, too, apparently has some issues of her own to deal with. The plot developments are unexpected but logical, and are delivered far faster than a weekly schedule demands. The comic is all the better for it.
The subplot that deals with the son of the original “Elite” -- a wealthy vigilante Frank killed back in the day -- is full of dark, satirical humor. I suspect I know exactly where it’s going, but as with the original series, having a strong feeling about the ending makes it no less fun to take in -- Ennis’ skill in crafting readable, if completely insane characters is all the reason one needs to keep reading.
The weekly format is a fairly unusual one for Marvel, perhaps designed to get an extra-regular Punisher series on shelves for the duration of the movie to try and get readers into the habit of going to the shops. If that is the case, then they’ve chosen well with the creative team of Ennis and Dillon, who offer material with decent crossover potential for new punters. Even the fact that it’s sequelizing old material doesn’t hold the series back. The only failed piece in the puzzle, unfortunately, is the poor performance of the "Punisher War Zone" movie. The comic can definitely capitalize on any Punisher enthusiasm -- it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be any.
So far, the series looks like a perfect companion to Ennis and Dillon’s original run, and if the quality remains at this standard then fans should find themselves more than pleased with the results.
(Check out CBR Reviews' previous review for http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=550" target="_blank">issue #1!)