Wednesday Comics Review: Punisher 1 and Severed 1

There's a rule people often bring up in any kind of visual narrative. Show, don't tell. Why spend long scenes full of exposition when you can actually show the events happening instead. Torchwood: Miracle Day, I'm looking at you.

Punisher #1 by Greg Rucka, Marco Checcato and Mike Hollingsworth is a prime example of this. In two connected chapters

The name Punisher, the name Frank Castle isn't even mentioned. He appears briefly, but he doesn't even say a word. His prescence is enough. This is the kind of thing Jim Shooter would flip his lid over, but the restraint works well here, portraying Castle as something ghost like, a grim reaper in human form, never needing to be named. Yet he is ingrained in the system, the criminals and the police, using one against the other, spreading his influence until he attacks.

The second chapter is the first time we even get a good look at the character, told by unreliable narrators, Marco Checcato's visuals contradicting the exposition and showing the real truth to the story – while explaining one policeman's ties to the Punisher, previously seen in the first chapter.

The storytelling here is choreographed, like ballet, more about the dance than the story it is telling. On the surface it's another gangsters being punsihed for doing gangstery things. But its the detective Bolt that look to be the star of this comic. We see his loves in a brief initial montage, we see his interviewe at the end, and how excluded he is from what is really going on with fellow officer, the Punisher and organised crime.

And its a comic about how the Punisher dives in and out of people's lives, taking a number of them with him.

Severed #1 by Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft and Attila Futaki is also a dance of a story. We meet a man contfronted with his childhood past, a childhood that starts with a devil may care attitude and ends with a monster, and somewhere along the way he will lose an arm.

Set in America in the nineteen tens, a bleak, desolate yet optimistic place, the brightest sun seems to cast the darkest shadows and it's there, as in the scene above, that danger lies. In basements, around corners, inside cars. Severed teaches us that the open sky is safe, the covered canopy has dangers, against our natural instincts. Artificial light, which should dispel the shadows also brings its own dangers, quite explicitly in the text as well. And as for the trains cross crossing the country… this is Luddite in its presentation, the technology that man brings, away from the natural American state for this relatively new country, dooms him when he moves away from the purely natural state.

And monsters emerge. Creepy, this comic promises much more.

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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