By: Jonathan Maberry (writer), Goran Parlov (art), Lee Loughridge (colors) & Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: The Punisher, as the last “normal” hero (super or otherwise), tries to rid the Earth of infected cannibals.

What’s Good: I really enjoyed this a lot.  I’m usually a continuity whore, but for some reason I don’t mind these alternate versions of The Punisher (Franken-Castle, Max, this one, etc.).  This version of Punisher does have the advantage of being pretty true to his original form: the bad-ass and heavily armed man-with-a-plan cutting a vengeful path through the Marvel U.

There really isn’t much not to like about this issue.  We get to see two really cool little action sequences where Frank takes on Hulk and Venom.  I especially liked Frank’s method of taking down the Hulk, but both sequences show just how much planning Frank has put into taking down these various superhuman-types, so Punisher fans should be happy by this showing of their hero as the baddest badass there is.  And it’s also fun that the two main villains are both talkative heroes who annoy the piss out of Punisher in the 616 universe.  That’s well thought out.

This comic has lots of little bits of humor, but doesn’t go overboard into full-scale yuk-yuk mode.  It’s just that appropriate dark, black and dry humor that I appreciate in an apocalyptic Punisher story.  I don’t want to give away the jokes, but you’ll enjoy them when you see them.

Parlov’s art is very nice throughout.  It is getting to be that I seriously enjoy any comic that is NOT photo-realistic (unless your name is Alex Maleev) and this fits the bill.  It is just lots of good line-work.  Kudos also to Loughridge who has added a lot of life and vibrancy to this work with his coloring.

What’s Not So Good: I didn’t care that much for the extent to which Frank had to discuss matters metaphysical with the priest he saved.  I get that the moral dilemma for Frank is whether his job is to protect the survivors of the plague OR kill the infected and I think that’s a good thing to discuss, I just could have done without quite as much discussion of Heaven and Hell and whether the Punisher was an agent of God.  I can go to Sunday school if I want to hear that and don’t need it in my comics.

Also, haven’t we seen Hulk eat Wolverine before in this apocalyptic stories?  That doesn’t bother me too much, but I can see it being bothersome to an element of the fan base.  Why couldn’t Hulk have eaten Daken?

Conclusion: This was another fun little issue.  It’s only a 4-issue miniseries and I encourage you to pick it up.  It won’t be discussed in the same hushed tones as Watchmen in 20 years and that holds back the overall grade, but it isn’t doing anything provocatively dumb either.

Grade: C+

– Dean Stell