Warning: The following contains spoilers for Punisher (2022) #1 by Jason Aaron and Jesus Saiz.
The latest Punisher miniseries has already come under fire due to the overhaul of the classic Punisher logo. As part of the art style, it fits much better into the limited run than the classic logo would have, and for good reason. The new logo is representative of Punisher’s new association with The Hand, an organization that traffics in demons and apocalypses.
The comic is narrated by one of the Hand’s leaders, and the story retreads the ninja group’s evil goals. Along the way, the art used emphasizes confusing close-ups and unclear delineations transposed against side cults to emphasize the life of Frank Castle. This use of art uniquely emphasizes the plot of the comic and develops the characters to a greater extent than prose alone can.
Frank Castle’s life – and his perspective – is turned upside down
The story begins by retreading Frank’s origin in flashes of consciousness. Images of clothes covered in blood scroll across the panels, the narrative is messy and disjointed. These give way to awareness of the present, as the narrative was suddenly clear and easy to follow. The juxtaposition of these two styles can lead to the assumption that a narrative has more meaning.
For Frank, that seems to be the case. He gets to kill criminals while doing what The Hand asks and spending time with his resurrected wife. However, the genius in it all is just that: none of it makes sense from a real-world perspective. As gruesome and senseless as it is, a family gunned down in a random act of violence is understandably, so gruesome. The police’s laissez-faire attitude to this is also understandable, if sad. For Frank, however, his life has far more meaning in his unreal situation than in the loss of his family.
The Punisher now deals with sectarian beliefs
The Art of Punisher (2022) #1 further demonstrates Frank’s ability to process his life in terms of war better than life. The art changes from a highly stylized block to an oddly proportioned block when remembering a heist by Frank and the Hand. An airbrushed appearance highlights the golden helmets and men who revere the concept of war. The art of this segment again emphasizes Frank’s lucidity and ability to see the world correctly. He is surrounded by allies determined to bring about violence and the end of the world. The enemies he faces love the concept of war and use guns to support wars. Yet this time is almost artificially beautiful, the blurry lines and visuals positioning Frank as a leader and a killer.
Another flashback fight against the Hand sees Frank killing ninja after ninja, with the group attacking him like a large wave. At this point, however, readers finally realize that the narrator is Aka, who sees Frank as a figure of the Antichrist. Just as the early panels showed Frank’s fuzzy perceptions, the later panels show how Aka sees the world. It is a glorious tapestry of embellished bloodshed. Frank is just another part of it.
Comics as a medium tell stories. While these stories generally revolve around storytelling, it’s easy to overlook the subtle choices that make the art complement it. Like a real comic book, each panel of Punisher (2022) is carefully constructed to emphasize the storyteller’s perspective. In this, the comics are again shown through Punisher to be an incredible medium, both printed and visual.
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