Punisher: G-Force – Mike Baron

5 out of 5

We’re rating on a sliding scale, here, because parts of this tale are definitely imperfect, but it’s such a bonkers concept with continually bonkers additions – a perfect outlet for Mike Baron to blend his slapdash impulses with Punisher grit, and for artist Hugh Haynes to dream up insane and daring layouts – that I’m totally okay with its comparatively minor flaws, and maybe embrace them as part of the story’s B-movie charm. 

…Which is kind of the mode Baron would float in and out of during his Pun run, and it’s a good fit, generally, as long as it’s balanced out by an actual idea, which G-Force certainly is, even though it’s a high concept one: to send Punisher to space. 

This is also where the extended page count is helpful, because it gives Baron room to actually build up to this, and he does, and not unexcitingly. By using our expectation – from the cover, and the title – that we’re eventually going to get ro Frank Nasa-ing in zero G, Mike has a lot of fun starting rather far afield, chasing drugs on the street, and putting the Punisher through quite a grind as he goes undercover as a buyer in order to suss out the source and their operations. There’s simply no filler here – no subplots with other characters, or Micro fussiness, which all has its place, but in this case, allows Mike to keep the tone steady: Frank is focused and choosy with his one-liners; every page brings us a step closer to space. And once we get where we’re going, there are money shot concepts galore that I shan’t spoil, except that Pun’s gotta Pun, even if he’s on a space shuttle. Does everything make sense? Heck no; we skirt past lots of hiccups to get on that shuttle, but once you’re there, you won’t care. 

On art, Hugh Haynes is electric. Camera angles are employed artfully throughout to keep all the street-level action cinematic but grounded, with a lot of you-know-these-characters-instantly visual characterization. And again with the money shots: as ideas get bigger and bigger, the pages get wilder. Not all of it works, but the energy kind of pushes past that and makes it work anyway. 

I would get fired for my choices, but if you had me make a Punisher movie, after the first installment goes yadda yadda origin story, I’d be pushing G-Force as the required followup, which would be a mic drop movie, with no need for any Pun films thereafter. We still need Punisher comics post G-Force, but it has a similar effect: after Frank goes to space, what’s left? Baron and Haynes approach the material with that bravado, and it kills.