Secret Invasion Review – “Punisher: War Journal #24-25”

I should be clear from the outset: I picked this up solely for the “Secret Invasion” crossover, as I’m not a fan of the Punisher.

General Information

Title: Punisher War Journal #24-25

Author: Matt Fraction and Rick Remender

Illustrator(s): Howard Chaykin (art) and Edgar Delgado (colours)

Cover Date: December 2008 and January 2009

Cover Price: Issue 24 is $2.99US/$3.05Can, issue 25 is $3.99 in both currencies.

Detailed coverage of all applicable issues of all Secret Invasion related titles can be found at this address.


Frank Castle is in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody when the Skrull invasion hits and shuts down the prison that he’s being held in. He heads out to the field, taking down Skrulls as efficiently as he can, using geurrilla tactics. Doing so gets the attention of G.W. Bridge, who is sent to reel him in before he hurts S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and his partner and tech guru Rampage, who has just learned about a moment in Frank’s past he wasn’t previously aware of.

High Point

The Punisher stops a massive prison break.

Low Point

Sitwell complains about his DVR failing. Yes, he’s always been a bit nerdy, but he’s also been a character who is entirely consumed by his work with S.H.I.E.L.D. Owning a DVR means spending time watching TV and not working for S.H.I.E.L.D. That’s simply not the Jasper Sitwell I know.

The Scores

This doesn’t feel terribly original. A big part of that is the character. I’m not a Punisher fan, mainly because I find he’s a one trick pony and I don’t like his trick. Once again, he indiscriminantly kills those he sees as bad guys, and works hard to protect the good guys. I’ve never seen any indication of depth to the character, and there’s no difference here. He revels in the slaughter of the Skrulls, and has little patience for anyone not doing the same. It does seem to set up a new villain, but the new one is too much like Jigsaw at this point for my liking. I give it 3 out of 6.

The artwork by Chaykin is in his own distinct style. I find the rounded features and extra wide jaws are not a particularly good fit for this title. It makes the characters appear soft, as though they still have a lot of baby fat, and that’s just not the right look for a stone cold killer. The art is easy to follow and tells the story well, but I don’t like the way the characters are drawn. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story holds together well enough, giving unfamiliar readers enough recap to follow the storylines already established. While this won’t impact the main event, it looks like it’s safe to say that the Secret Invasion was a trigger for significant changes in the title. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization for the three leads is good. This is the Frank Castle I’m familiar with, and don’t like him for all the same reasons I never seem to like him. The same goes for G.W. Bridge. I’m unfamiliar with Rampage, but I’ve got a clear handle on who the character is to this writing team. Sitwell didn’t quite fit the character I know, but his entire role is over in less than two pages. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response wasn’t great for me, but those who like the lead character will probably be much more satisfied. I didn’t enjoy it because I just don’t like the Punisher as a character, particularly when he’s touted as a hero. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow is smooth enough. There’s some early scene switching, but the transitions are clear and the threads are convergent. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is one I’d recommend to Punisher fans only. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Punisher: War Journal #24-25 receive 29 out of 42.

Secret Invasion Review Checklists

Background reviews:

Infiltration reviews:

Main Event reviews (including date the last issue should be available):

Dark Reign reviews (a “+” indicates that the last issue of the story arc is not confirmed; issues in brackets may or may not be included, depending upon whether or not those issues are needed to understand the tie-in issues):

  • Agents of Atlas #1+
  • Avengers: The Iniative #20-22+
  • Black Panther #1+
  • Dark Reign: New Nation
  • Deadpool #(4-5), 6-7+
  • Invincible Iron Man #8-10+
  • Mighty Avengers #20-22+
  • Ms. Marvel #34-36+
  • New Avengers #48-50+
  • Punisher #1-2+
  • Secret Invasion: Dark Reign: December 10
  • Secret Invasion: Requiem #1: December 24
  • Secret Warriors #1+
  • Thunderbolts #126-129+
  • Uncanny X-Men Annual #2
  • War Machine #1-3+
  • Wolverine Origins +
  • several unannounced titles, I’m sure