Frank Castle’s adventures in the Marvel NOW era have been a little more comic booky than I typically like, but recent issues have definitely improved on the original storyline. Becky Cloonan’s ongoing tale of Frank Castle going after Mutant Growth Hormone drug dealers had been a tiring slow burn, but there’s been a new jolt of electricity to the series in recent months, and there’s no better example of that than in Punisher #14.
A simple one and done story, Punisher #14 revolves around a blackout in New York City that’s orchestrated by a group of robbers. A series of events brings Frank Castle into the fray, who makes quick work of the various thugs harassing the people of New York City. Becky Cloonan’s script keeps the momentum moving really well, and expertly uses Frank Castle’s demeanor and lack of dialogue to great work. Frank moves almost like Jason from Friday The 13th here, taking out criminals one by one. Of course, it’s also nice to see the reactions of his victims when they realize who’s after them too.
Matt Horak’s art continues to deliver with this series. After the unfortunate passing of Steve Dillon, it seemed like Punisher would have trouble finding a suitable replacement. Luckily though, Horak is able to fit into the established art style that Dillon set up, and in a lot of ways, I think he improves on that style. Cloonan wisely lets Horak do a lot of the heavy lifting in this issue, and he doesn’t disappoint with some panels that are extremely fluid and graceful.
While there’s nothing that makes this issue of Punisher stand out, it’s still one of the more solid issues of the series. After putting the Punisher up against some super powered thugs, Punisher #14 is a nice refresher that reminds us why Frank Castle is such a cool character in the first place.