This week, the Marvel Rundown crew (D. Morris, Cy Beltran, Tim Rooney, and George Carmona 3rd) come together for a roundtable discussion on The Punisher #1 and Thanos #1. Do they pass muster or are they worth skipping? Read on to find out!

Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bolded recommendations without our discussion for our final verdicts.

Punisher #1

Punisher #1

Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Dave Wachter
Color Artist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Rod Reis

THE BEAT: Hello everyone and welcome to this month’s Marvel Rundown roundtable chat. We’ve got a pair of books to discuss tonight, so we’ll get right into it…what did everyone think of the new Punisher #1

D. MORRIS: I thought it was okay. Honestly, I’m surprised they didn’t use this for the new Ultimate line. I will say that for someone like myself who only reads Marvel books based on creative teams this was a good starting point for new readers. David Pepose did a good job on making sure you knew what was going on even if you had no idea why S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t exist anymore.

CY BELTRAN: That’s a pretty great point, the Ultimate route would’ve been an interesting way to revamp the guy without any of the baggage. I thought the issue was pretty good. I haven’t read much Punisher, so I was expecting it to be a lot more aggressive, but this worked for me.

TIM ROONEY: I thought this was the better of the two we read for tonight but both were kind of strange in their own ways. It did have Ultimate vibes, but it felt like the creators  were trying to completely separate the story and character from any real politics which just made it feel like an imitation of The Punisher. The actual structure of the book and the scenes with the police helped ground the story and made some of the setup feel natural. I like the tired detectives. Dave Wachter’s art was great! 


GEORGE CARMONA 3RD: As I’m not the biggest fan of the Punisher and what he stands for it was a solid riff on John Wick, which is what the writer David Pepose wanted. But your point of making it an Ultimate title is on point. It did remind me a lot of David F. Walker’s Nighthawk run from a few years back. 

CB: I haven’t checked out that Nighthawk run, but I’m with you, Tim, I really dug Wachter’s art, especially with Dan Brown’s colors. It felt pretty outside of what I picture Marvel House Style to be (wiggly Stuart Immonen fans), and I think that was needed for this different of a book. There are some phenomenal facial expressions here, especially when Hyde shows up. 

TR: I mostly know Wachter from TMNT (I have a signed print from him) so it was nice to see him do more gritty human drama. His dark scratchy shadows were the right tone. 

DM: Agree that Dave Watcher and Dan Brown’s work on this book is a highlight. The fights in this book are well choreographed. Also as soon as I saw accountant and he showed up in a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, I appreciated the nod to the Bob Odenkirk starring Nobody.

THE BEAT: How do we feel about this new approach to the Punisher? And how does Joe Garrison compare to the original, Frank Castle?

TR: That’s what is so weird about this one for me. I am not a huge fan of Castle but his tragedy was always rooted in the real world. This seemed to be intentionally trying to strip any of that realism away (a lot of fake countries, big goofy Jack Kirby sci fi tech). Punisher has gotten complicated in the real world and it seems like Marvel doesn’t know how to approach the character and his iconography. I’m interested to see what makes Garrison different from Frank Castle other than just swapping out some of the details. But there wasn’t enough to him here for me to feel anything much about this character especially because it’s so bogged down in Marvel’s fake politics. 


DM: It’s interesting that they’ve tried really hard to distance this new guy from Castle and his police background, for obvious reasons. But at the same time they kept things familiar to that character. Still has the military background, still is a cop of a sort. Even the name Garrison is a synonym for castle. This issue doesn’t do too much to make him too dissimilar but I suspect future issues will do that.

GC3: I’m glad I read the interview with Pepose that Beat reporter Joe Grunenwald did after reading the book. Having fresh eyes on it didn’t influence my thoughts on the story or characters. The S.H.I.E.L.D. connection and hardware make it distinctive enough. The skull needed a revamp after being coopted by cops, and Watcher’s fusion of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech and Punisher aesthetic works. I did like his back story of being a Black Ops part of S.H.I.E.L.D.

CB: I wanna echo what you all have said, and note how interesting I found it that Garrison shrugs off the Punisher moniker from the beginning. Sure, his suit looks somewhat like the classic logo, but he’s very pointedly trying not to be the Punisher – at least, by name. In all other aspects, he’s pretty much just the Punisher. I always thought the Punisher (and accompanying logo) were a bit too close to copaganda as it is, so I’m curious to see how they continue to push Joe (Garrison, not Grunenwald!) further away from that identity.

TR: That about sums it up for me—it’s a solid intro but I want to know more about who this character is and why and how he’s different from the original. I’d say give this a BROWSE mostly for the art, and because I think Pepose can build something interesting by the end. 

GC3: This is a neat twist on the Punisher myth, so I don’t know how the diehard fans are going to embrace a different guy pulling the trigger, good thing he’s not a woman. For the casual reader STRONG BROWSE as it has some engaging storytelling and the art is a funky gritty treat. 

CB: Agreed. This was a fine bottle episode to set-up the character, but I don’t think we got enough to make a determination on whether or not this works. This is a STRONG BROWSE for me.

DM: STRONG BROWSE from me as well. There’s interesting things here but I wish there was more to hook me. 


Thanos #1

Thanos #1

Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Color Artist: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho

THE BEAT: Alright, onto Thanos #1. What did we think of the Mad Titan’s return to the page?

DM: This was everything I dislike about mystery box storytelling. Here’s a mystery girl who has a mysterious connection with Thanos. Here’s a bunch of recognizable heroes here for mysterious reasons. And we’re supposed to care that Thanos stole Fresno? Why do we care about any of this? I will say I was happy to see Thanos’ ship from the 70s Starlin comics in this.

TR: I was not a fan of this issue, this time mostly because of the art. The Punisher was elevated by its artist, but this script was really let down by the cluttered and often hard to follow layouts.  It was a mess. I agree with Dan about the frustration with the mystery box angle. Is it so much to ask for the title character to have more of a presence in the book? I like Christopher Cantwell’s writing a lot in general but this first issue didn’t give me enough to care about this strange girl and Thanos’s presence was just not felt. 

CB: Maybe it was the opening narration, but I’m gonna say that I actually enjoyed part of this. I agree that Luca Pizzari’s art didn’t do much for me, but I liked Cantwell’s voice from the top. Something about the way he talked about love and death got to me. In terms of an overall plot, this didn’t really have anything to it, and I think that was clear by the end of the issue (when Thanos makes a cameo in his own book), but I can’t get over how much I liked that story at the beginning. Maybe I would’ve rather read a book like that instead…


GC3: This was ok. The mystery is there, the artwork does a lot of heavy lifting with the atmosphere and general feel of the book, and I did like the new Illuminati doing secret stuff that is going to piss folks off. And I agree on the callback to Thanos’ ship just wish there was more of him. 

DM: I agree with everyone. It is really disappointing when the title character barely appears in the first issue of their own book, especially a character like Thanos. Also agree on the art which didn’t do much for me either.

TR: I did like the story about finding something profound in garbage reality tv as well, Cy. If we see that reflection on life and death carry through the rest of the series maybe I’ll feel differently about this issue in retrospect. 

CB: Yeah, that’s fair to say. I also used to be a big fan of The Bachelor, so maybe that was it as well. I hope someone like Cantwell makes this a throughline, but in terms of the ending of this issue, we’re nowhere near that happening yet. You’ve all turned me around on this, it’s a bit of a bummer to be honest. We haven’t really touched on those Illuminati cameos at the end, but it feels like that’s ‘cause they really didn’t impact this in the slightest…

GC3: Yeah this might be a better read collected, BROWSE

CB: I’m with ya, George. I’ll have to see how this reads altogether before I can make a judgment, but I’m also at a BROWSE. There’s some great writing from Cantwell, but it’s an uneven book thus far. 

DM: This is a PASS for me. If you’re going to take a mystery box approach to things, you need a bigger hook than Thanos kidnapping Fresno and a strange Goth girl.

TR: Agreed with that, I would give this a PASS. It didn’t do much for me at all. 

Next Week: Alien #1 and Deadpool: Seven Slaughters!