WRITER: Greg Rucka
ARTIST: Mirko Colak
COLOR ARTIST: Matt Hollingsworth
LETTERS: Joe Caramagna
COVER: Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary & Paul Mounts
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Stephen Wacker
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Axel Alonso
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER: Joe Quesada
PUBLISHER: Dan Buckley
EXEC. PRODUCER: Alan Fine
Release Date: March 14th, 2012
Published monthly by Marvel Worldwide, INC.
Price – $2.99
(32 Pages, single-issue, color)
INTRODUCTION: (From page 3)
“For months, the criminal organization known as The Exchange has been consolidating their position at the top of the New York crime world. An amalgam of ex-AIM, Hydra, and similar organizations, they’ve attempted to exist below the radar, and avoid super-hero attentions. Under ex-AIM scientist Stephanie Gerard’s leadership, they’ve been successful…for the most part.
Now, the Punisher is hunting the Exchange, and Gerard knows the danger she and her fellows are in. She’s ordered ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Christian Poulsen, her business partner, to take care of Frank Castle once and for all. Eager to impress the woman he loves, Poulsen has baited a trap with blood, in an attempt to draw the Punisher into its jaws.
But unknown to the Exchange, Marine Sergeant Rachel Cole-Alves is also hunting the Exchange, pursuing revenge for the murder of her husband and family on her wedding day. Drawn to the same bait as the Punisher, she has unwittingly entered Poulsen’s trap…”
The writing from Greg Rucka in issue #9 is in top form as it has been during the entire series so far. Rucka gives Frank an opportunity to speak a little bit more in several key situations during the issue. One is at a point where Frank is going in for a kill, another when he is trying to gain vital information about Daredevil and finally a ‘frank’ conversation with Rachel Cole about her purpose and intentions. It seems to all fit fairly well but it does feel like a Frank that we haven’t seen much of so far in the series. Fans must know that at some point we were going to be treated with some tasty dialogue from the big man but it seems like his dialogue even still will be short and blunt. This is fine by me as the periphial characters that Rucka has given life to seem to be much more important in driving the written dialogue of the story forward.
Rating – “B+”
This is the one major let-down for me in this issue. After fans have been spoiled time after time with the brilliant work of Marco Checchetto during this series, guest artist Mirko Colak performs admirably but fails nonetheless. Characters from Mirko seem lazy and slow…even for a comic! His representation of Frank literally had me going nuts with what seemed to be a man that hasn’t taken care of himself at all. His rendition of both Frank and Rachel seemed to me very odd with some views/angles representing them as somewhat overweight and dull in detail. It also doesn’t help the the moody atmosphere that Checchetto brought to the title seemed to be missing in this issue. Lastly, the cover in my opinion is the worst that the series has had so far…also not done by Checchetto.
Rating – “C-“
This issue felt more like a preview for something big coming…which is obviously the epic crossover for April between Avenging Spider-Man, Daredevil and Punisher. There is the lead in of the Omega Drive, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense at this moment with the Exchange storyline (but I have faith that it will) being injected into the story early in this issue and then the 24 hour diner conversation between Frank and Rachel that goes so quickly that I didn’t even see them eat! All in all the actual story only lasts 23 pages out of the 32 pages and feels either rushed or just a lead-in to what needs to take place next with Spider-Man. I really feel that the story could have been better served with a more intense scene between Frank and Rachel. Heck, who knows, maybe if Checchetto would have done the pencils on this issue he would have stretched the diner scene out another two to three pages longer J
Rating – “B-“
I honestly feel that Character representation comes down to a mixture of the writer and the artist in any comic book. In past issues, I have felt strongly that the team of Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto have complemented each other to blend the characters in an amazing fashion. I unfortunately did not get that vibe in this issue. I did feel that Rucka did a solid job at moving the story forward, at providing some interesting plot points and some build up for future issues but the issue just didn’t seem to do anything special with the characters. The only real redeeming moment that I felt was strong was the last three frames of the issue when Frank tells Rachel that they are going to war. Other than that, the characters didn’t seem very alive.
Rating – “C+”
This issue does give readers some action and some interesting plot points. It picks up on last month’s fantastic cliff-hanger and it has Frank in a very unique situation to defend himself. It has a unique diner scene that allows for some valuable interaction between Frank and Rachel and it has some build-up for the epic ‘Omega Effect’ crossover coming next month. That is honestly about it though.
Rating – “B”
OVERAL RATING OF ISSUE: “B-“