His armor is damaged.  His enemy is in a secure bunker.  And there’s a nuclear warhead inbound.  Time for Frank Castle to do what he does best…  Your Major Spoilers review of The Punisher #223 awaits!

The Punisher #223 CoverTHE PUNISHER #223

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 4, 2018

Previously in The Punisher: “When a nuclear warhead threatens the innocent people of Chernaya, FRANK CASTLE pulls out all the stops to put an end to GENERAL PETROV’S regime.  But the War Machine armor has seen better days…

…so Frank might need to go a little old school.”

A DESPERATE RACE AGAINST TIME

Rocketing through the sky in his stolen War Machine armor, The Punisher immediately tries to shoot the warhead down, only to find out from the A.I. that this would be a bad idea.  (You’d think someone who blows up as much stuff as he does would know better, but…)  Instead, he jettisons his weapons and as much armor as possible to catch up, igniting the fuel in the missile and capturing the warhead, which he carries back to Earth to threaten Petrov’s last line of defense.  This proves to be either a terrible idea, or the best idea ever, as Nick Fury responds the only way he can: An EMP that knocks out the warhead.  And Frank’s armor.

And the armor of everyone who was about to kill him.  Frank goes low-tech for the rest of the assault, basically murdering his enemies with a knife, only to discover Petrov has a War Machine armor of his own…

KNIFE IN THE EYE!!!

The first thing I realize about this issue is that Vilanova draws a really good likeness of TV Punisher Jon Bernthal, the second is that even for a Punisher comic, this is mighty violent.  It’s also wall-to-wall action, with a satisfying climactic battle between an armored Petrov and a non-armored Punisher.  Rosenberg’s plot gets the job done, with no major flaws or twists, and most of the dialogue borders on clever (especially Frank’s deadpan interactions with Nick Fury.)  The idea of Frank Castle with powered armor is one that I wholeheartedly support, which also makes me think that Punisher purists are going to hate it a lot.  With the promise of returning to New York next issue (and the cameo by Captain Marvel, angry that Fury lost her late boyfriend’s armor), I’m hoping for Punisher-style superhuman fighty-fighty in coming issues…

BOTTOM LINE: LIKABLE (ALBEIT VIOLENT) STUFF

In short, this issue does what I’ve always thought The Punisher should do: Adapt to the advanced technology that all the bad guys are probably already using.  The Punisher #223 is well-done explosiony stuff that still has some things to say about the nature of combat, vengeance and all that deep philosophical stuff, and now he has an armor, so… Let’s say 3 out of 5 stars overall.  If nothing else, we’re getting to see a Punisher that doesn’t deny that he lives in a world where a man with a machine gun may need additional help to stay at the top of his heavy artillery game.

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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