The Dark Reign one-shots are proving to be much better than expected.  The Daredevil book introduced the new writer and the new story arc, recapped what had come before in a non-cumbersome way, and easily invited new readers to start reading the regular series.  Now, Rick Remender and Tan Eng Huat have done with The Punisher what should have been done a long time ago.
If you don’t want me to ruin the punch-line of the one-shot for you, just know that I recommend the book without reservation.  Plus, it’s got John Romita, Jr., on the pencils doing some unusually gritty work.  I haven’t seen him do work like this since his Wolverine: Enemy of the State books with Mark Millar.  I’m sure some of the credit goes to the inking of Klaus Janson, who may be the best at what he does.

Okay, stop reading now if you don’t want the spoilers.  (Of course, with all the promos Marvel has been doing, I’m not sure I’m spoiling anything.)

Now that that is out of the way . . . Punisher has never been a favorite of mine.  He looks cool, but even the most acclaimed story runs (by Ennis, e.g.) have never really interested me all that much.  He’s kind of like an over-the-top violent Batman.  But when I heard that in this book they’d not only kill Frank Castle, but zombify him, I had to check in.
The Remender Punisher title has been a good read overall, although I could do without the skateboard/hacker “Henry,” who is Amadeus Cho to Punisher’s Hulk.  Still, I understand how hard it must be to write for a character with such grim singlemindedness.  The storyline of late has focused on Punisher’s attempts to assassinate Norman Osborn.  This, of course, got Frank on Norman’s “list.”  And in this issue, with the help of Daken (Wolverine Jr.), Osborn succeeds.  All is going according to plan: Daken hacks Punisher into bits and the body parts fall to the rain-soaked NYC streets.  But instead of H.A.M.M.E.R. recovering the Punisher pieces . . . Well, I’ll leave some surprises to the book.  Suffice to say that the perfect Halloween tie-in launch begins with this one-shot, introducing the next Punisher story arc (beginning with Punisher #11): FrankenCastle.

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