It makes perfect sense that Greg Rucka would be the author to turn in the most-memorable in-continuity Punisher story in recent memory and the one with the best-developed female characters. After all, he’s not only known for stellar super-hero runs on titles like Wonder Woman, but also beat-cops drama on DC’s Gotham Central.
However, if Rucka’s success in this story makes perfect sense, the big surprise is the superstar turn from artist Marco Checchetto on his first lengthy run.
The Punisher by Rucka & Checchetto is the #42 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot. Visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes. And, check out Guide to Punisher for details on how to collect this and every other Punisher run, ever.
Past Ranking: A 2017 debut!
Probable Contents: Punisher (2011) #1-16 & Punisher: War Zone #1-5, a crossover with Daredevil #11 and Avenging Spider-Man #6, and material from Spider-Island: I Love New York City (maybe adding the non-Rucka Punisher: The Trial Of The Punisher (2013) #1-2)
Creators: Written by Greg Rucka.
Line art on The Punisher (2011) by Marco Checchetto (with Matthew Southworth, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano, Mirko Colak, and Mico Suayan). Line art on Punisher: War Zone (2012) by Carmine Di Giandomenico. Color art on both series by Matt Hollingsworth.
Can you read it right now? Yes, but the four paperbacks collecting the 23 core issues of this run have become exorbitantly expensive to track down, which is part of the reason this omnibus is such an attractive prospect. Find the details in the Guide to Punisher.
It’s hard to separate the quality of Rucka’s run from fans’ sense relief and delight that Punisher was back to basics and back to the streets of New York City after less-than-beloved runs from Matt Fraction and Rick Remender. This 2011 iteration of Punisher finds Frank Castle back in New York with little explanation. It’s simply where he ought to be.
(For the record, Remender’s is good but fucking weird.)
Rucka juxtaposes Punisher’s back-to-basics vigilantism against an act of violence incredibly similar to his own origin – a shoot-out at a wedding that leaves just about everyone dead, save for the bride – Afghanistan veteran and police Sergeant Rachel Cole.
Actually, she’d rather you call her Rachel Alves. She took her husband’s name.
At this point I think it’s safe to say that Greg Rucka is probably the best writer working who is still willing to dally with Marvel and DC between his own projects. At the point that you can write killer runs on Punisher, Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and even the typically boring Cyclops in a five year period you’ve proven yourself to be the undefeated champion of Big Two Comic Writing, Eisner Awards be damned.
It’s not just Rucka that makes this a must-read run. Marco Checchetto has secretly been one of Marvel’s best in-house pencillers for years, and while he’s just now getting his due with runs on Star Wars titles, The Punisher was his real proving ground. He’s been a favorite of mine every since.
Prior to this run, Checchetto’s notable prior work was being part of the pencilling rotation on Amazing Spider-Man, where it was hard to stand out against other tremendous artists each on such short arcs. On Punisher, we saw Checchetto settle in for a run for the first time and he goes from strength to strength – accentuated by Matt Hollingsworth’s increasingly grounded, unglossy take on colors.
(At first, Hollingsworth seems beholden to match the sickly quality of the colors on the guest covers by Bryan Hitch colored by Paul Mounts.)
This volume is the increasingly entwined story of Castle and Cole-Alves, whose twin missions of revenge eventually intersect and intertwine as they assist and subtly thwart each other. While Cole-Alves tragic arc is filled with palpable grief, Rucka wisely uses her plot to give Castle an arc both in plot and emotion.
Even when the run takes a last-minute swerve to find the Punisher facing off against The Avengers in Punisher: War Zone (with Carmine Di Giandomenico ably replacing Checchetto), the moral arc of the twinned Castle and Cole-Alves drives the plot.
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? I think yes.
Punisher is heating up thanks to his Netflix series, and I was seriously shocked that this slim-but-satisfying volume wasn’t amongst the omnibuses announced for this fall to complement his show.
However, it makes more sense when you think that almost this entire story could be adapted perfectly to the Marvel onscreen Universe.
Whether or not this story is headed for a Punisher Season 2, I do think the omnibus is headed to accompany that season.
Would I recommend buying it? Yes.
This run of Punisher perfectly splits the difference between heroics and noir, and the whole thing looks damned great. I’d go so far as to say it should be one of the first Punisher runs in your collection.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results
- #60 – What If? Classic Omnibus, Vol. 1
- #59 – House of M Omnibus
- #58 – Captain Marvel by Peter David, Vol. 1
- #57 – X-Force by Kyle & Yost
- #56 – Namor, The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1
- #55 – X-Force, Vol. 3 AKA Cable & X-Force, Vol. 1
- #54 – Conan The Barbarian, Vol. 1
- #53 – Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron
- #52 – Incredible Hercules by Pak & Van Lente
- #51 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
- #50 – Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Vol. 1
- #49 – Captain America (Silver Age), Vol. 3
- #48 – Doctor Strange by Roger Stern
- #47 – Marvel Horror of the 1970s
- #46 – Killraven
- #45 – Captain America by Mark Gruenwald, Vol. 1
- #44 – Runways by Brian K. Vaughan
- #43 – Superior Spider-Man
- #42 – The Punisher by Rucka & Checchetto
- #41 – Black Panther by Christopher Priest, Vol. 1