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Written by Rick Remender
Art by John Romita Jr.

Despite being labeled as a one-shot, Dark Reign: The List – Punisher is sixth in the line of Dark Reign: The List one-shots done by several creative teams. The idea is to show Norman Osborn crossing off items on his to-do list. Now, stormin’ Norman is looking to mark off the good old Punisher – Frank Castle.

The Story

This little one-shot becomes a fairly important issue for the Punisher, as most of the Dark Reign: The List issues have been for their characters. Frank Castle has become a pain in Norman’s side, what with Norman being the insane criminal and Frank having his zero-tolerance policy on crime. Norman, being America’s top cop, drops the might of H.A.M.M.E.R. upon Frank and his truck basically right from the get go.

While our mouse – the Punisher – is typically dangerous, he’s nerfed here. Instead of plowing through H.A.M.M.E.R. agents with a storm of bullets, Frank goes soft because they’re still “cops.” Soft means a whip and an expanding Cap-like shield, all of which seem to come from a bag of holding left over from Frank’s D&D days. Using those and Pym Particles instead of the guns the Punisher is known for, particularly in a notable issue for him, just seems off.

It’s not just Frank either. H.A.M.M.E.R. agents descend on goblin gliders, dropping pumpkin bombs and shooting lasers. Frank’s current sidekick Henry runs around as a Rocket Racer wannabe. The first half of the book takes away some of the dark grit Punisher titles tend to have over traditional Marvel books.

Luckily, the fight with Draken – “Dark” Wolverine – picks up the second half and brings Punisher back to fighting dirty. Frank breaks out the guns, knives, explosives and teeth in a nice climatic fight. Their duel moves up to a dark and rainy rooftop to cap off their epic showdown. The setting fits the gravity of the situation.

One other thing I noticed in this book is Remender really likes his pauses. Several dialog bubbles and thought boxes contain double hyphens and ellipses. Even complete sentences that would seem like they ended would end with ellipses to draw them out. Remender should probably learn to cut down on those.


The Art

I tend to find people either like or hate John Romita Jr.’s work. I fall on the former. With that said, Punisher is not a title I’d choose him for. He’s usually more superheroish versus a preferably less exaggerated and more rounded style I’d like for Punisher. It’s blocky, and there is some overly-squaresh character art in this work. He’s good at showing wear and tear though, particularly on Frank’s face. By the end of the issue, you can see all the hits his face took.

Romita may have a slight case to ‘90s pouches. Punisher is decked out with slightly more than usual. Given that this is a “last stand” type of fight though, you might need a lot of pouches to hold everything to hold out with.

For the most part, the art is well textured and detailed. However, some of the coloring seems to bleed over the wrong lines at times and then stop short, which could be the colorist’s issue or the penciler or inker for not defining the boundaries.

The coloring is a bit more vibrant and light than I would have liked, but it does follow the thematic flow of the story and darken as it goes along. There’s the occasional inconsistency too, like Draken’s Wolverine eyes go back and forth from bloodshot to white.


Dark Reign: The List – Punisher  develops into a decent standoff with the Punisher. It just takes getting through the awkward first half. The art is decent enough. The ending is pretty important to any Punisher fan, so if you wear a black tee shirt with a skull on it, definitely give this a flip through. If you don’t care about Punisher or Dark Reign, you can give this an easy pass.

Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10

The Review
Story 7/10
Art 6.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10