“Part One: Napoleon”
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Lee Weeks (p), Tom Palmer (i)
Marvel's finest fanboy favourites team up against the shady Napoleon in the first of a new miniseries. The Punisher is after a group of organised bank-robbing criminals: but how does Logan fit into all this...?
If you've been waiting for another Wolverine crossover miniseries, your prayers have been answered! It's only been - what, a month or so since the disappointing "Wolverine and Captain America"? - but Marvel has once again seen fit to give their money-spinning mutant an outing, this time pairing him with that loveable murdering maniac, the Punisher. In fairness, it is Frank Castle who gets the lion's share of the action this time round (perhaps in deference to his upcoming movie) in a romp which is surprisingly well-written and involving.
We are introduced to the character of "Napoleon" in the issue's opening pages. The concept of a kingpin of crime is hardly a stranger to the Marvel Universe, but this character is marked out as something different. The writer gives us an insight into this self-styled general who likes to control his pawns from a safe distance through an egotistical but intelligent voice-over. Before long, however, Frank Castle gets involved in one of their bank robberies, bringing a welcome touch of his trademark cold-blooded violence into the fray. Milligan shows his understanding of the Punisher's cold, uncompromising attitude to the war on crime here, with his expressionless features well-captured by Weeks' pencils. Napoleon's reaction ("Maybe he's not after me personally...") gets a fun punchline, showing that this tale is not going to be afraid to puncture the po-faced tone that usually permeates The Punisher.
Further developments take the story into a strange villains' hide-away called "Erewhon" and a locale which seems to evoke the Punisher's Vietnam origins. It is here that the story becomes more complex, and even when Logan is finally introduced his motives are as yet unclear. It doesn't matter though: this issue does enough to establish this Wolverine/Punisher miniseries as a silly enough crossover that is not going to change comics history but is fun enough for a stretch.
The competent enough first issue of this miniseries shows an enjoyable flair for the absurd but always plays it straight. This injection of humour into the normally overly "gritty" lives of the two leads is no bad thing, adding a welcome dimension of fun - something that comics can lack nowadays. If you buy a comic called Wolverine/Punisher you know what to expect: action scenes are executed well enough (and are sure to escalate in issues to come) and the plot won't tax your brain cells too much. Just don't expect it to blow you away.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!