The Punisher: Acts of Evil Annual // Review
The Punisher is a character who needs little introduction. A man who lost his family due to the collateral damage of organized crime, Frank Castle’s career has been generally grounded beyond the occasional event, or that time he was an Angel… or when he was a Frankenstein… or when he teamed up with a Scottish Ghost of Vengeance… or teamed up with Archie Andrews...
Ok, the Punisher is a very grounded guy who keeps getting into bizarre situations. However, the newest annual for the Punisher under the Acts of Evil banner happens to have one to top them all: What if the Punisher went to space to fight the Brood? And what if J. Jonah Jameson was by his side?
Punisher: Acts of Evil Annual was written by Karla Pacheco, penciled by Adam Gorham, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Matt Milla, and lettered by Cory Petit. There is also an epilogue chapter with art by Szymon Kurdranski and colors by Erick Arciniega.
Caelus Drake, a multi-billionaire stand-in for one of the many rich entrepreneurs who are currently focusing on space, is launching a new space shuttle. With a crew of four selected from a reality TV show, they’re also to be constantly filmed while in space with a special payload. J. Jonah Jameson is also present, being his loudmouth self at the launch, as his son helped create the shuttle. JJJ’s own bluster has him venture onto the shuttle, only to see Frank Castle helping himself to kill the shuttle crew, one by one. When the shuttle launches into space, JJJ is left alone with the mass-murdering Punisher.
And the Brood, who just cracked open the hull of the shuttle and are looking for mates.
This is a surprisingly wonderful book. Karla Pacheco has a fantastic handle on the character of both JJJ and Frank Castle, and the two play perfectly off one another. JJJ doesn’t treat Frank like a villain or hero, but like a human being who has made deadly mistakes, which is a nice change of pace from nearly every other person that Frank Castle has encountered. The plot is also relatively basic but relies on the characters and some well-timed humor to make the story work. Long-time Punisher fans will also see a few references to old memes from the 90s. It is admittedly weird seeing JJJ interacting with anyone other than Spider-Man, but it’s also a wonderful branching out of character. This is a premise that has a few more stories in it if Marvel is willing to take the chance.
Even the best book is weak if the art can’t support it. Luckily, the crew assembled for both the main story and the epilogue are top-notch. Adam Gorham seems to be having a blast drawing the odd couple of JJJ and Punisher, complete with a dress-up montage that pokes gentle fun at both characters. The inks are fantastic, with Andy Owens’ pen making the Brood look particularly menacing. The epilogue fits with the story, but the different art team makes it feel like the chapter was added when someone realized the comic had more pages to use. As such, it provides a darker tone for the story, like something you would see in a normal Punisher comic.
In short, Spider-Man fans should pick up this book just for JJJ’s presence alone. Punisher fans have already bought this book, and fans of Marvel’s more bizarre aliens should also check this one out. It’s one of the better books featuring Frank Castle in quite some time, and the one-shot nature of the story makes it incredibly easy to pick up and read.