Art by Reilly Brown
This won’t quite be a review. I’m classifying it as an editorial for the sake of my record-keeping, but it will really be more of an analysis of a specific element (or lack of a specific element) from Marvel’s Daredevil/Punisher #1. I know this comic has been out for a few weeks, but I just got around to reading it. An overall evaluation would be that it’s… okay. It’s fun, fast-paced, and has plenty of action.
There are plenty of things that I could commend or pick apart about the comic. I like that everyone is terrified of the Punisher, which they should be. I like Blindspot, but I don’t really get why he is here. I would think that Daredevil would tell him to go the other way the second Frank Castle showed up. This may be explained in a later issue, but who is Sergey Antonov and why does the Punisher care so much about him? Also, the art is good on the whole, but Daredevil’s bulkiness makes some of his poses look a little weird.
However, for the sake of this editorial, we are going to focus on the relationship between the Daredevil and the Punisher, or, more to the point, the lack of relationship that DD and Franky have.
This is one of my favorite hero rivalries, right up there with Captain America/Iron Man and Black Panther/Namor. That being said, there’s not much to that rivalry here. It can be best explained by the first run-in between Daredevil and the Punisher in the comic. Daredevil lands on the hood of Frank’s van and says “Punisher,” to which Frank replies with “Daredevil.” It felt weird, like walking up to your best friend and calling them Mister or Missus whatever. Now, DD and Franky are not best friends in the slightest, but you’d think they wouldn’t just address each other by their professional names. I’d imagine that DD would call the Punisher “Frank,” and Punisher would call Daredevil “Horn-Head.”
It doesn’t help that a lot of Daredevil’s dialogue about Frank Castle in the comic consists of exposition to Blindspot about who the Punisher is.
The chemistry just isn’t here. Punisher is stock silent, which makes sense for the most part, but he views Daredevil as this “holier than thou” boy scout that has halted his crusade so often in the past. Yet, Frank still respects Daredevil a little bit. In contrast, Daredevil views the Punisher as his own possible future. He is Daredevil’s worst self, the man that represents Matt Murdock if he ever let his always-present anger completely take over. The Punisher said it best in the second season of Daredevil’s Netflix series: “You are one bad day from becoming me.” This is a relationship that Spider-Man and the Punisher don’t have. Parker mostly recognizes Castle as just another guy with a gun, and Frank sees Spider-Man as a pest more than anything.
I understand that Marvel is trying to capitalize on the opportunity for these two characters that the spectacular second season to Daredevil’s Netflix series provided. However, the relationship between the two characters was far more fascinating in the show. I understood what fueled the tenacity between the two of them in the show. Their frustration with one another showed in every scene they shared. Each brawl they had was a release of pint-up anger that each character instilled in the other.
This comic just didn’t have it for me. Daredevil treats Punisher like just another threat. Punisher treats Daredevil as just another obstacle. Maybe the later issues in the mini-series will ramp it up a bit. I certainly hope they do. However, it just isn’t here.