Hydra is still on the move, as Baron Zemo is building alliances with major corporations such as Roxxon and nations across the globe. Hydra agents have seized a cargo ship off the coast of Morocco and are building a new facility in Staten Island. However, the Punisher isn't done with Hydra yet. He is moving in on the Staten Island facility.
The Punisher is still on the trail of Nazis across the globe, even if there are some technically-not-Nazis from a few made-up Marvel countries. Apparently, Bagalia is still a thing.
Anywho, Matthew Rosenberg delivers a back-to-basics Frank Castle here, though "back-to-basics" is a sliding scale for the Punisher. No more War Machine armor, but we may still get a tank or two. I suppose hunting Nazis is relatively new for Frankie, but I'll always be game for reading that.
I'm not a fan of truisms as a rule, but in my experience, the best Punisher stories fall into two categories in terms of presenting Frank Castle as a character. The first kind takes a deep dive into Frank's psyche, presenting the inevitably disturbing and unholy things therein. The second kind treats the Punisher like a bogeyman; he is the terrifying ghoul that ambushes and rips apart the worst humanity has to offer.
Punisher #1, as a standalone comic, falls into the latter. He doesn't talk much, he appears from seemingly nowhere and is impossible to put down, and he is both vicious and dedicated.
Szymon Kudranski provides the artwork for this one, and he does a damn fine job of making Frank look like a terrifying gargoyle of a man. He fires from shadows, wades through fire, and looms over his foes like a vengeance demon. Also, and Rich Johnston mentioned this in his own article, Tony Stark shows up and looks exactly like Robert Downey Jr. RDJ always looked stunningly like Tony in the movies, well that has come full circle with Tony Stark having the same facial structure as the actor. It's pretty crazy.
Antonio Fabela gives the book a good color treatment, delivering a mixture of deep, dark shades cast against the red-and-yellow tinted flashes of violence throughout.
The Punisher #1 isn't exactly the stripped-down Frank Castle story I think many were expecting after the War Machine story, but it is Frank going back to his old methods of urban guerrilla warfare with the occasional frigging tank mixed in for good measure. It's not exactly smart or profound, but it is a fun read with great artwork and worth a recommendation. Check this one out.