Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Marcelo Ferreira (pencils), Roberto Poggi (inks)
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
The War of the Realms has begun in earnest, and as we can expect from a Marvel crossover event, there’s room for everybody. This week’s War of the Realms: The Punisher #1 casts a spotlight on Frank Castle’s efforts to fight off Malekith’s frosty forces from invading Earth.
When done poorly, event tie-ins like these can feel superfluous or insubstantial. But when they’re done well, they can help give a sense of scale to the proceedings and give you a specific perspective on the events happening around certain characters.
Punisher is an interesting character to follow amidst the grandiose chaos of the War of the Realms; he lacks personal connection to either side of the conflict. He’s just a guy. Whereas another street-level character like Daredevil plays well on a team, Punisher prefers to work alone — even when dealing with Dark Elves and Frost Giants.
The ridiculousness of Punisher fighting off these otherworldly beings on his own is a pretty good hook for this series. Frank is vastly outmatched in terms of brute strength, forcing him to use his wits and instincts to stay alive and help civilians to safety.
I’m not necessarily sure how far writer Gerry Duggan can stretch that premise; it kinda feels like this could’ve been a one-shot rather than a three-issue series. While something like this month’s War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery feels like it needs the space of multiple issues, War of the Realms: The Punisher doesn’t. I’d be interested to see how it progresses from this first issue, though.
Duggan at least has a grasp on the character that feels consistent with his most recent appearances: less bloodthirsty for the sake of it and more concerned with helping others, particularly the ones who don’t wear capes or don’t come from outer space. With Punisher, you risk going too far in the former direction, but the huge stakes of the War of the Realm event do help ground him in reality.
The art by Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi (pencils and inks, respectively) is pretty standard for an overarching event like War of the Realms in that it’s not mind-blowingly great or noteworthy, but it gets the job done without looking bad. That sounds like a knock on their work, but really, it’s just the reality of a company like Marvel having to spin so many plates at the same time while maintaining quality control during a busy publishing period like this.
Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors help elevate Ferreira and Poggi’s art with a bright palette that reminds you that this book is Thor-adjacent, even with its comparably low stakes.