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Review: The Punisher Season One

By Alex Wiggan

Another weekend and another new Marvel/Netflix offering; this time it’s the turn of The Punisher – Marvel’s gun-totting vigilante. All 13 episodes of Season One dropped on the streaming service on Friday, becoming Netflix’s sixth Marvel show, following Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.

For those not familiar with The Punisher, the show is a spin-off from the second season of Daredevil. The series stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/The Punisher; an ex-serviceman battling his own demons following the brutal killing of his wife and children.

The first thing to note about The Punisher is that despite the fact the show is a spin-off series, there is very little across the 13-episode run to tie it into any of the previous Marvel shows. This is a great thing, as a.) you can watch The Punisher without having to catch up on any Marvel/Netflix show post-Daredevil Season Two and b.) it makes this series feel quite fresh as it’s not bogged down with Defender connections.

The second thing to note about The Punisher is just how brutal the show is, without the need to go too OTT. Anyone who has seen the ill-fated and frankly appalling 2008 movie, Punisher: Warzone will know that violence levels in live-action Punisher adaptations can border on insanity. Here, that’s not the case and the violence (which is extreme at times) is in keeping with both the character and the tone of the show.

So, how does The Punisher shape up?

Overall, very, very well. In fact, The Punisher is another success in the Marvel/Netflix portfolio.

For those of you who loved Daredevil or Jessica Jones, but found Iron Fist and The Defenders slow or kind of pointless are urged to give The Punisher 13 hours of your time – you wont regret it. This show feels very much like its own beast, which doesn’t need any links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and could easily be the beginning of Phase II of the Marvel/Netflix sub-universe, or simply its own thing entirely.

Across the 13 episodes, The Punisher touches upon topical issues such as gun control, domestic terrorism and the growing unrest within certain sections of the US. Sure, some of these topics could have done with a little more depth, specifically in the Trump-era we find ourselves in today, but it is good to see these topics raised in a show that is so action-orientated.

Highlights of this first season include a strong opener in ‘3 AM’; a tense encounter in episode nine, ‘Front Toward Enemy’; and an explosive stand-off in episode ten, ‘Virtue of the Vicious’. Of course, not all the episodes work and there are a couple entries early doors which feel a little slow, but it’s a minor blip that thankfully doesn’t bring the series down.

Other highlights include Jon Bernthal, who is just as good as you remember him being when he guest-starred in Daredevil – if not better – and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman/Micro, Frank Castle’s sidekick/partner. The Punisher/Micro pairing works really well and ensures the show ticks along nicely with a strong duo that are a force to be reckoned with.

A shout out also has to go to Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Frank’s former service-buddy, who is now the head of ANVIL – a private military corporation. Fans of the comics will be very familiar with Russo, who is taking the first steps here towards his own comic book destiny.

The Punisher is a dark, action-packed series, with a strong cast, some stand out scenes, good visuals and a real likeability. If you’re not off to watch Justice League this weekend, or you’re simply looking for a dark Marvel tale, then get it watched. Get it watched, now!

 

 

 

About the author: Alex Wiggan has written blog posts for Honcho-SFX blog since October 2014. He likes writing, eating pizza and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes in that order.

 

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