Franken-Castle! The Punisher (2009) #13

I was prepping some comics for eBay and wound up getting sucked back into Rick Remender's bizarre and wonderful "Franken-Castle" arc. Remember when the Punisher was a Frankenstein who defended the oppressed monsters of the world from an army of cyborg samurai monster-hunters? No? Well, then you should hunt this down. It's great. Probably my favorite thing that's ever been done with the Punisher.

One of the things that makes it great is that the team of artists assigned to the book are drawing their hearts out - Dan Brereton, Roland Boschi, and Tony Moore. Now, I've been down on Moore's art before, but "Fraken-Castle" is probably the best work he's ever done. He's able to capture the mood Remender is striving for, gritty and bizarre while still being recognizably Marvel, and with a touch of the black comedy Garth Ennis brought to the book.

And his storytelling is top-notch. Here's a striking page from the end of issue #13.

Gonna need you to trust me here.The Punisher #13 (March 2010), page 19
Art by Tony Moore.

Tall, skinny panels can be tricky to do right but this page does them right. Moore uses a consistent rhythm and continuity of form to draw the eye towards the third panel. Giganto's body body in the first panel and the body of the helicopter in the second panel create a wedge leading your eyes down and to the right. At the same time, the arrangement of the Punisher and Man-Thing in the first panel, the cyborg samurai in the second panel, and even the street light in the third panel lead your eye up and to the right. When these two lines cross in the third panel, the flow of the page is inverted. The foreground and primary area of interest, which has been at the bottom of the first two panels, is now at the top. This is accentuated by the starburst speed lines which recapitulate this page dynamic inside the panel. And now you're at the top right of the page, ready to flip and start the next page.

There are some other methods used to make that panel pop. The blown-out background, which is white and lavender, contratsts with the dark blues of the first two panels. The full body drawings of the Punisher and Man-Thing contrast with the cropped and cramped drawings in the first two panels. And having Man-Thing break the panel border really sells the zooming action - one of the few times that trick that doesn't seem utterly gratuitous.

A great page from a great book, and a great little storytelling lesson. And I didn't even mention the alternating v-shaped rhythms created by the spotting of the white areas and word balloons, or the selective spotting of detail, or how the irregular panel borders add to the heightened unreality of the scene, or any of the other little tricks Moore deploys here. So great.

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