Review: Punisher #8

Finally picking back up with the Punisher and the Bride facing off at the fireplace, the latest issue of The Punisher moves the plot forward in several ways. But it does so without fixing any of the frequent problems I’ve had with this series. Perhaps, like Teen Titans, I should just accept certain problems as part of the story and move on. Because if you overlook those issues, there really is a decent Punisher story here. And the twist ending is very exciting.

Punisher #8

We might finally get to see the Punisher doing some punishing next issue!

Comic rating: 4/5: Good.

The Punisher himself remains a quiet phantom, there’s no changing that. But at least we get appearances from all the other major players, we even learn a bit more about a lot of them. Not that this ‘bit more’ really adds anything, especially to the villains. As far as I’m concerned, The Exchange has fallen flat on their faces as bad guys. Adding a bit of tension between them means zilch at this point. But it’s better than nothing, I suppose. I enjoy plot progression at least.

But when is he going to lose that stupid eye patch? Did Punisher lose his eye or what?

Synopsis and spoilers after the jump!

Sadly, we have to start, once again, at the recap page. For whatever reason, writer Greg Rucka likes to include a lot of little details in the recap pages that we did not learn in the previous issues. For example, the male co-leader of the Exchange, Christian Poulsen, is not just an ex-SHIELD agent, but he also has feelings for fellow co-leader Stephanie Gerard. I don’t remember any sexual tension between them before (in the few scenes we’ve had with them), but you better believe it’s all over this issue. Heck, it becomes the defining factor of their partnership.

Anyway, so there we are in the ski lodge in Upstate New York where the Punisher came gun-to-gun with the Bride at the end of issue #6.

Deja vu

After a tense moment, she drops the phrase ‘blue on blue’, which means friendly fire. Punisher acknowledges her meaning and they both lower their weapons. I’m not sure if he recognizes her as the bride, but there’s definitely no way she’d miss his awesome white outfit and black skull design. The two of them head into the room where all the killing was done and each grab a laptop computer. You may recall last issue that both detectives Clemons and Bolt were curious that the laptops were gone. Well now we know what happened.

The two then go their separate ways without nary a word about the Bride being his sidekick.

Not the end of a good first date

Then we cut to Queens, where Stephanie Gerard, co-leader of The Exchange, arrives at a run down U-Store-It facility. It’s snowing, with plenty of snow on the ground. We’re still in the dead of winter. As she approaches, she hears a sound behind her and turns, weapon drawn!

Deja...wait a minute...

It’s just Christian Poulsen, ex-SHIELD agent who has the hots for her. But we already knew that. Poulsen is kind of creepy when it comes to flirting with Gerard, since she seems to have zero interest in him. He holds her arm for a little bit too long, gives her creepy glances. She’s pissed off that he sacrificed 18 people up at the lodge on his mission to get the Punisher. She’s not down for any of his creepy flirting.

Poulsen tells her to stop worrying about a bunch of mid-level Exchange troops, they’ve got plenty more in the wings that can get promotions to fill those slots. Poulsen starts punching in a code to the storage unit. Gerard tells him that the Exchange was formed to dispute those very ideas. When criminals work for HYDRA or A.I.M. they at least know the Avengers won’t kill them if they’re caught. But Poulsen points out that M.O.D.O.K., leader of A.I.M. will definitely kill some henchmen even if they work for him.

Poulsen explains that it was all a trap for the Punisher, one that had to be baited with blood. He leads her to the back of the storage unit, where there’s an even more secretive door and a super secret room inside.

In Brooklyn there's a McDonalds with a secret missile silo

Poulsen has access to one of Nick Fury’s many secret stashes. Gerard is impressed, and he tells her that he’s wiped the security files on a few stash houses before leaving SHIELD, so they’re safe. Besides, Poulsen says, “It’s not like Fury was using it.”

While looking through the gizmos in this safe house, Gerard picks up some little devices and starts murmuring technical jargon about it. She seems very technologically minded. Poulsen remarks that if he knew this is what got her excited, he’d have brought her to the safe house long ago. Remember that sexual tension? Yep, it’s all of a sudden everywhere. Gerard tells him off with a witty, ‘oh snap!’ sort of putdown and tells him to catch the Punisher by the end of the week. Then she leaves.

Cut to an old, run down fix-it shop in Manhattan, which the Punisher uses as a base. He’s still recovering and running a program to break into the Exchange laptop he stole. He gets in and reads a memo about a meet-up in a building downtown. Just what he was looking for. Also, the Punisher seems to be building quite the collection of superhero memorabilia.

Explain to me how exactly he got those items?

Across town, the Bride is hacking into her own Exchange laptop when she gets a visit from our favorite detectives, Clemons and Bolt. They wander into her apartment talking about the case, and Rachel says that she thought the case was closed because the Punisher killed everybody. The detectives ask if she’d be OK with that, and Rachel tells them that she does have a problem – she wanted to kill those bastards herself.

Redheads are hot

Clemons asks if she’s had any contact with the Punisher. Frank Castle also used to be a Marine, and they have loyalty, right? Rachel tells them that she was home alone in her apartment the night before, not out killing Exchange goons in a ski resort. But she can’t confirm that because all of her friends and family were killed, remember?

Clemons spots a Marine blanket placed suspiciously over a chair. He pulls it up to reveal…nothing. Was he expecting to find the stolen laptop? Because he sure didn’t! Rachel tells them to get out.

Cut to the meet-up that Punisher discovered on his print out. He spies the place with binoculars, confirming the address. Then a ‘cleaning guy’ enters the building in the middle of the night, making his way past security. Upstairs in the officers, the cleaning guy pulls out a shotgun and starts searching the joint. But this was Poulsen’s trap. He’s watching the Punisher’s heat signature move through the building. Poulsen zaps Punisher with the building security.

Watch out for the lasers!

Poulsen, speaking through the PA system, starts gloating as his security drones start zapping the Punisher. The orbs are bullet-proof, so Punisher can’t fight back. Poulsen gloats that to defeat the Punisher, you misdirect him, engage him at range and deny him his shot. Then you take the Punisher apart. Poulsen is a badass, remember, so he’s pretty good at this.

But wait! That cleaning guy? It was really the Bride! She’s the one trapped by Poulsen’s security. But he can’t see that, because he can only see the heat signature!

So where the hell is the Punisher?

Behind you!

Booyah, baby!

Hells yes! Finally, Rucka gives us a stand-up-and-shout moment of pure excitement in his Punisher series! This is the kind of darkly sinister yet wholly rewarding scene I want in my Punisher comics. There are few things more badass than the Punisher’s skull logo appearing out of the shadows. And Rucka and returning artist Marco Checchetto nail it to the wall and leaving it dripping!

So I’m definitely excited about next issue. A lot happened in this one, the plot has started moving forward a little better and that cliffhanger is a thing of beauty.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on February 5, 2012, in Comics, Marvel, Punisher, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sorry but the Punisher is not someone looking for partners or a love interest. Greg Rucka… his whole Punisher/Daredevil/Spider-Man team-up was crap. It was predictable, fighting Ninjas is old and over used (the first sign of no talent in writing whatsoever), the team-up of Spider-Man and Deardevil just to get “Odd Couple” moments and arguments from them was just idiotic.

    The Punisher is not a secret agent; he’s not James Bond or Batman. He doesn’t go undercover that way. The OC woman was nothing but a sorry ass excuse of a female Punisher (pointing there guns at each other was a Max Payne/Mona Sax rip-off), and the Punisher already had the whole tough redhead partner (from SEHLID) back in the late 90’s. In other words, been there, done that.

    The Punishe has been through a lot worse than what this guy has done… then you take the Punisher apart… oh, please…

    Making the Punisher look like a poor rip-off of Solid or Naked Snake (spiky hair, an eye missing, trying to make his bandage look like a bandana and a beard) and having a redhead female partner (Meryl Silverburgh) just to get new readers is sad… and we already had this whole redhead partner (that one was from S.H.E.I.L.D. as well) back in the 90’s… in other words… been there, done that. But this Marvel of the 2010’s, they have no more ideas and they know it. So they’ll just keep reusing them if, even the storylines that were completely terribly.

    A comic book storyline for the easily amused.

    Save us Garth Ennis and Thomas Jane! Save us from these fan boy hacks!!

    Comic rating: 0/0

    • I am going to assume you are trolling, not because you don’t enjoy this series, I do but I could perfectly understand why some people wouldn’t, it mostly had to do with your arguments, and the fact that you apparently cannot write S.H.I.E.L.D right for some reason, so here are my counter arguments:

      1- “Sorry but the Punisher is not someone looking for partners or a love interest”:
      To answer this I’ll just quote an interview with Rucka:

      “When I began this run, I wanted to isolate Frank and conversely show that’s a self-imposed isolation. Thus, when somebody invades it, ie: Cole, it kind of jeopardizes the balance he has achieved. To do what he does, he’s made some huge sacrifices and some very deliberate choices. One of those things is that he’s eschewed human contact. He doesn’t want friends. He doesn’t want to do those things that people who have normal lives do. He is on mission. The problem is, if somebody else enters the mission, it forces an interaction, and when you don’t kill the person you’re aiding immediately, it’s an ongoing interaction,” Rucka said. “It creates a relationship. I always get leery of using the word ‘relationship’ when I talk about Frank and Rachel, because I’m afraid people are going to go to think I’m planning on them hooking up. That’s never going to happen. Never in a million years are these two going to hug, kiss or make nice. That said, they have a relationship. How that relationship works and doesn’t work is going to become more evident as things unfold.”

      2- “his whole Punisher/Daredevil/Spider-Man team-up was crap”:

      First of all it wasn’t just Rucka, he and Waid wanted to make their characters meet because of the punisher and daredevils previous interactions, the omega effect was just the macguffin to do so, and I’ll admit it wasn’t great, at the end barely anything changes, but it wasn’t bad either, it was ok.

      3- “The Punisher is not a secret agent; he’s not James Bond or Batman”:

      Several authors have different interpretations for the same characters, for better or for worse, but in this case the change suits him, this punisher lives in the 616 universe, he needs to be smarter and more tactical, he always was smart and tactical but most of the time they didn’t show that process and in real life just going in there and shooting everybody doesn’t work that much.

      4- “The OC woman was nothing but a sorry ass excuse of a female Punisher and the Punisher already had the whole tough redhead partner (from SEHLID) back in the late 90’s. In other words, been there, done that.”:

      The story of Rachel was to compare another marine to Frank after being put in a similar situation, her destructive desire for revenge and how she can’t be like the punisher, because no one can, the fact that she is a woman is mostly because Rucka likes (and is very good at) writing female characters, if she were a man would the story be different?
      Also I must admit I am confused by the whole “Punisher already had the whole tough redhead partner (from SEHLID) back in the late 90’s”, the only female sidekick I remember him having in the 90’s is Lynn Michaels, who is blond, and was a police officer, but I haven’t read old Punisher comics in a while, could you please tell me in which issues did that happen so I can see if the situation is the same as you say, please?

      6- “pointing there guns at each other was a Max Payne/Mona Sax rip-off”:

      Seriously? is that what you are going with? People have done that in movies since like… forever, is it just because they are a man and a woman? Because just of top of my head I can think of 2 movies that did that before Max Payne.

      7- “The Punishe has been through a lot worse than what this guy has done… then you take the Punisher apart… oh, please…”:

      Isn’t that a recurring theme in EVERYBODY the punisher fights? That all of them think they are going to be the one to kill him with their own tactics? The more inteligent villains are the ones that know what you just put in there.

      8- “Making the Punisher look like a poor rip-off of Solid or Naked Snake (spiky hair, an eye missing, trying to make his bandage look like a bandana and a beard)”:

      That wasn’t Rucka’s decision, that was Marco Checchetto (the artist) he once admitted that when the time skip passed and he drew him with the beard to show that he based it on Big Boss, why? Because Big Boss is awesome, thats why.

      9- “having a redhead female partner (Meryl Silverburgh) just to get new readers is sad”:

      Ok, everybody can see that Frank looks like Big Boss, but where on earth Rachel looks like Meryl? Seriously aside from the color of their hair… not even that, they have differents tones of red, that comment made no sense.

      10- Read point 4: Why you choosed to say that twice is beyond me.

      11- “this Marvel of the 2010’s, they have no more ideas and they know it. So they’ll just keep reusing them if, even the storylines that were completely terribly.”:

      That is why they put different authors in different characters, to give them a new perspective and new stories, your comment would have made more sense if Rucka had written The Punisher before, but he didn’t, and why is that only a marvel thing? Why do you think DC rebooted the universe? It was to clear some space and being able to write more different stories (plus all the Nº1 to greet new readers)

      So there you have it, those are my counter arguments, if you wish to discuss this further, either to show me why I am wrong or at least to tell me in which issues this 90s redhead partner appeared so I can eat my words on point 4, write to me at guardianxavier@hotmail.com (not my primary e-mail) in order to continue this discussion without annoying our host and his website anymore.

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