WWI vet Frank Castelione lost his wife to cancer, has a son who’s fallen in with hoodlums, and owns a store mobster Dutch Schultz wants to “protect.” This is the setup for Punisher Noir, a four-issue series alternating between 1918, 1928 and 1935. At the center of it is a skull-masked vigilante who’s declared war on Schultz.
It’s easy to take The Punisher model and plug him into different settings (the Wild West, for example) and he’s a natural fit for Marvel’s Noir imprint – so much so that I was worried this would merely be a rehash. But Frank Tieri shakes things up, giving the reader something other than a conventional Punisher story.
As a longtime Punisher fan, it’s interesting to see how Garth Ennis’s Punisher has become definitive. Tieri pulls from Ennis’s Marvel Knights and Max runs, but his versions of characters like Detective Soap and Barracuda don’t feel forced into the Noir setting.
Girl Comics may have a cringe-inducing name, but the content is solid. It’s an anthology similar to Strange Tales, written and illustrated by women in comics. The result is a bit unfocused, but there are some tales including Valerie D’Orazio and Nikki Cook ‘s take on the Punisher, a fun Wolverine and Jubilee story from Marjorie Liu and Sara Pichelli, and Kitty Pryde’s 21st birthday by Carla Speed McNeil and Ronda Pattison. Pages are also dedicated to important women in Marvel’s history giving the work added depth.
Heralds is a standalone story written by Kathryn Immonen which starts with Cyclops setting up a girl’s night out for Emma Frost. The banter between her and She-Hulk, Agent Abigail Brand, Hellcat, Valkyrie, and Monica Rambeau is terrific (and can Patsy Walker: Hellcat get a series already?) and feels more like what Girl Comics should have been. In addition to fun dialogue, there’s some great action involving Johnny Storm’s ex-girlfriend and former herald of Galactus, Frankie Raye – but it’s a little continuity-heavy so feel free to lean on Wikipedia to bone up on who she is: Nova (Frankie Raye).
Marvel Her-Oes is the lightest of the three, with teenaged Janet van Dyne (The Wasp) struggling to fit in even before an accident at her father’s lab gives her superpowers. Little does she know that her best friend Jennifer Walters is hiding a big green secret of her own. A confrontation with Namora puts superpowers in the forefront, but also attracts unwanted attention from outside forces.