The Punisher: Bad Tip (#20, 1989) – Mike Baron

5 out of 5

Sub out Punisher in this story, and you’ve got a perfect late night 80s action movie, with a twist ending that would’ve been probably laughable on film but works gangbusters here.

But Pun is in, and Mike makes him fit: recognizing that protecting a witness who’ll testify against a big name crime boss will, overall, net more justice than just killing said boss, Frank goes undercover as a Las Vegas gambler to suss out what’s what.  Just as predicted, he’s got his work cut out for him, but there are some awesome wrinkles to the story later on that complicate Frank’s undertaken job, and Baron coils it all up for a tightly wound tale.

Guest artist Shea Anton Pensa is given a crisp look by inker Garry Talaoc, with the art team giving us a very normal, somewhat straight-laced Frank that both fits the movie vibe as well as Frank’s “cover.”  Pensa also shows a flair for working with Mike’s fight scenes, detailing the moves in a believable fashion, which maybe encouraged the duo to hook up on some successive projects.