Collects: Punisher (vol. 6) #1-16; Punisher Annual #1; Punisher: Dark Reign - The List; Franken-Castle #17-21; Dark Wolverine #88-89; Punisher: In The Blood #1-5
Having never been a Punisher fan, I gave this book a shot because I've heard great things about Remender's run and I can't get enough of his Uncanny X-Force.
After finishing the Omnibus, I'm still not a fan.
Issue 1 got me hooked. Jerome Opena's art set the stage perfectly and the premise was intriguing enough for me to already second-guess my stance on the Punisher. Unfortunately, the remainder of the book didn't follow through.
The overarching story is Punisher and Norman Osborn hunting each other amidst tons of death and resurrections: Frank has a chance to be with his family, but will he take it? He seems to be losing his sanity, and who will suffer as a consequence? One arc even brings back Marvel villains from decades before and despite my apathy towards these characters, they were admittingly well integrated within the story and utilized purposefully. Punisher's new assistant, Henry, gets thrown into the mix early out of nowhere and although an interesting dynamic exists between the two, his entrance is abrupt and it bothered me that Punisher would so easily accept his help. Nothing is particularly BAD per say, but nothing particularly engaged me enough to care about Castle's journeys. It's just a lot of blood, pain, guilt, and more blood.
Then there's the whole "Frankencastle" deal, where Castle is brought back to life Frankenstein-esque. Apparently, this was supposed to be a typical Remender-style wild, insane, over-the-top plot that's absolutely fun, but I frankly found it to be stupid. I understand the comparison of Frank being both a monster (now both figuratively and literally) and a "monster" hunter, but I couldn't get over its ridiculous premise and I'm sure a writer of Remender's caliber could've found a different way to communicate the same messages.
The limited series, "In The Blood", brings back Jigsaw as an adversary and wraps up Henry's time as the Punisher's assistant. It provides a surprising amount of depth to Jigsaw but I was easily able to see through the story's "twists". It was somewhat fun, but ultimately forgettable.
The art has its ups and downs with Opena's work by far being my favorite. The majority of it is Tony Moore and as much as I appreciate his art, I've seen better from him. Maybe it was the fact that he drew the "Frankencastle" series that brought down the overall experience for me... Other notable artists include Tan Eng Huat, John Romita Jr., and Roland Boschi.
If you're already anti-Frank Castle, nothing here will change your mind. As someone new to the Punisher, be ready for over-the-top violence wrapped around passable character studies, but be warned there's a chance you might be pushed too far over the top.