by Marc Guggenheim (Writer), Mico Suayan (Artist), Sunny Gho (Colorist)
The Story: The trial of Frank Castle goes on as the mystery behind why he got himself captured in the first place is solved.
The Review: This mini-series is a rather strange little thing. With only two issues to tell its story and to give readers a conclusion and a certain message, it is perhaps a bit too optimistic of me to hope for a good resolution to a story that did start up rather nicely. With most of the setup already in place and the mystery about Frank Castle and his current predicament being firmly established, can this second and last issue provide a neat bow as it connects everything together in a good way?
The short answer is not really. While it do try in bringing a certain resolution to the mystery of why Frank got himself caught to begin with and does use the courtroom setting to provide some interesting points, not everything connect seamlessly. This is the kind of comics that could have indeed been a bit better if it had a bit more space in order to tell its story with more details.
The main reason why the issue is perhaps not as good as it could have been lies very much in how it conclude and the explanation that follows everything Frank did, so here’s what it means.
With the main reason why Frank Castle got there in the first place being that he had information about corrupt judges and other workers in the domain of justice being at the same time and place on precise dates, meaning that he’d need to have a reason to be there in the first place, thus his trial. While it does bring in full circle the series in some way and does explain some of the more mysterious points and actions made by the character in the previous issue, it feels like a lot of the more interesting stuff got pushed aside to rush the ending rather than actually use the setting in the best possible manner.
It is in that retrospect that most of the courtroom drama seems a bit like padding considering the endgame. It is a shame, though, as the very debate about whether or not the Punisher could be qualified insane, with the testimony and some of the courtroom procedurals made for a rather enjoyable comic. Many of the scenes do seem to put a certain outsider look to the titular character, with citizens, former criminals and even Matt Murdock pointing their view on the whole thing. Many of these scenes could contribute to a larger whole, perhaps even a genuine character exploration that would let the strengths of the character speak for themselves.
Still as it may, the execution of the whole thing still do manage to work, despite some of the disappointing aspects of the story. The very nature of the Punisher, alongside some of the other characters, are all portrayed well, with the practicality and the vision of the Punisher being presented fittingly. The dialogue also works, despite a some heavy-handedness here and there when it comes to certain characters, with perhaps some stereotypical language coming from one of the witness along with some of the other characters. It does manage to bring some of its point across despite all the relative padding.
The art in itself, by Mico Suayan, is very good, yet there are some small weaknesses that kind of bring it down a notch. Some of the pages are almost instant classics, filled with iconic imageries as Suayan puts plenty of memorable elements that not only play with the iconography and the violence of the Punisher, but those pages also provide context to the dialogue connected to them wonderfully. There are two such pages, which are double-spreads, one that shows a good deal of violence while the other tells one encounter between Daredevil and Frank Castle. The rest of the pages are filled with big panels, as Suayan doesn’t go overboard with an experimental layout, telling his story instead by focusing on the characters and the setting in itself. The poses are also fairly evocative, which does speak well in terms of conveying emotions. However, the main weakness here is that a lot of the characters faces here are fairly unexpressive, coming off as cold and inexistent as a good number of characters simply look forward and don’t seem to react much to what is happening. While it may work with the Punisher in some scenes, it doesn’t really do for the majority of the characters stuck with the same dull and unimpressed facial expression. The art is strong, yet this lack of diversity do make the visual suffer a bit as a result.
The colorization of Sunny Gho fares a bit better, though, with the duller approach working wonderfully with the tone and the setting. Settling on grey, beige, brown, black as the main colors that drive the story forward, Gho use the major presence of these colors to make them able to provide a multiple number of contrasts through the pages, with colors like red, green, orange and the like having a much bigger impact despite their minor presence in some pages and panels. It may be a tad dull to look at with a first glance, yet its subtle handle on the whole thing do help with how the story is told and with how Suayan draws the whole thing.
The Conclusion: While it isn’t the most satisfactory of conclusion, thanks to some of the stronger elements being dropped near the end, there are a lot of elements on display here that do make this story enjoyable, with Mico Suayan art, Sunny Gho’s colorization and some of the courtroom moments being the crux of them.
Hugo Robberts Larivière