Here’s my review for The Punisher Volume 1: Welcome Back, Frank by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon!
The Book Itself
This is a double sized Trade Paperback. Normally most trades collect 5 or 6 individual monthly comic issues. Welcome Back Frank collects the 12 issue series marking Frank Castle’s triumphant return as the Punisher. The book contains a cover gallery at the end.
Steve Dillon is the man holding the pencils here. He’s teamed up with Garth Ennis before in the Preacher series. And the marriage is a great. Dillon’s pencilwork is just perfect for bringing to life Ennis’ gritty gory stories.
This kind of book is really perfect for his art style. I actually didn’t like his work on some other super hero books. But his ‘plain’ somewhat realistic but not overly detailed kind of style is great for the gun firefights and down-to-earth non super-natural action of the Punisher series. I really like the Steve Dillon‘s art in this book.
Garth Ennis, both in this book and in all the rest of The Punisher that he did subsequently in the Marvel MAX line, really distinguishes himself as the definitive writer of the Punisher of a generation.
In this series Garth Ennis takes the character of Frank Castle/The Punisher, stripped him down of all the plot and supporting characters that he had accumulated over the years, stripped away all the noise and bells and whistles, and got back to the basics of the character. The Punisher is a ‘hero’ that kills bad guys, period. He doesn’t have a kid sidekick, he doesn’t have an archenemy that he fights over and over again. He doesn’t have super powers, and he doesn’t use magic. He’s not a mutant. He’s a damaged man with a gun (er, lots of guns) and nothing to lose. There’s something beautiful in the simplicity of The Punisher.
There’s also the realism that I like. I mean, it’s a comic book. It’s not totally realistic. Nonetheless, it’s still more realistic than the idea of Batman for instance, heading out into a world full of guns and knives and killers, but nonetheless not using lethal means himself. How can you go out there and pull your punches when your life is on the line. I can accept that Superman doesn’t kill. He doesn’t need to. He’s bulletproof. Therefore, he can afford to be merciful, because he’s not risking his own life. But for a hero that’s a mortal man, one wrong move and you’re dead. So I appreciate the realism of The Punisher who ambushes criminals and shoots them dead. Simple, effective, realistic.
Frank is Back, Dismantling Criminal Organizations and Racking Up Bodycounts!
So here we are with The Punisher coming back to New York City and seeking revenge against the criminal underworld. He has targeted a crime family, and sets out to destroy their illicit business, and terminate the whole organization! Along the way, we’re introduced to few quirky characters who are inspired by The Punisher’s return, and start carrying out copy-cat acts of vigilantism. How does Frank Castle react to other actors taking up his own methods on his watch? Well, read the book to find out!
This is a really fun book and an excellent story. This is quintessential Punisher right here.
The Punisher Volume 1: Welcome Back, Frank is one of my favorite books. Sometimes you just get tired of reading Super Hero comics. You just can’t accept that for the 1000th time Batman is just going to hand the Joker over to Arkham Asylum and hope for the best. Sometimes you want something that feels more like real life, grittier, dirtier, more brutal. Times like that, you reach for The Punisher. And he never disappoints!
Buy it here: