Graphic Novel Review: The Punisher: End of the Line

The Punisher: End of the Line

The Punisher: End of the Line - Credit: Archant

Bringing fear and loathing wherever he goes - the Punisher’s on a road trip.

(Panini Books)

It’s impossible to read this second volume of Becky Cloonan’s new Punisher series without paying tribute to the contribution which artist Steve Dillon has made to the character over the past 16 years, including the issues included in the previous collection.

Steve tragically died from complications caused by a ruptured appendix last October, aged just 54, and his final pages of Punisher artwork feature in the first issue of this volume. An amazing artist whose life was cut short far too early, but who leaves a legacy of artwork which serves as a fitting tribute to this incredible talent. RIP.

This collection is the conclusion to the On the Road story (, which finds Frank Castle out of his native New York and traversing the US and Canada in a bid to uncover the source of in search of the source of the super soldier derivative EMC, capable of giving ordinary people extraordinary levels of strength and stamina.

His mission has already brought him into the proximity of the DEA’s Agent Ortiz, a former Special Forces buddy, and the madman known only as Face - all linked to Condor, a private military contractor which is preparing to sell staggering quantities of EMC to the highest bidder.

But now we reach the end game, as Frank must single-handedly take on the heavily-armed, well-trained forces of Condor armed with nothing more than his wits and his determination to get the job done, no matter how many bodies he leaves in his wake. There’s no holding back on the bloodshed either, as the Punisher resorts to increasingly more inspired ways of killing his enemies…

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Not since Garth Ennis has there been a writer who “gets” Frank the way Becky obviously does, showing just enough glimpses of the man Castle was before he became the Punisher to avoid he becoming another in a long line of emotionless killing machines who have blasted their way through comics over the years. Her imagination for violence also holds no bars, with the man-trap on a chain a work of depraved genius.

Thankfully she’s not going anywhere now this first arc has finished, and with Castle back in NY as this book ends, we can look forward to seeing the Punisher wreaking further havoc on his home turf in the months to come.