[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Daredevil has revealed himself to Punisher and Elektra, and all three of them see that Karen Page has been following Matt Murdock in the past day. Before they have time to process this, the Hulk busts out of Frank’s squad car and attacks. Frank Castle then flashes back to his life since he lost his memories, his short career as a New York beat cop, and his new wife. It also shows his first meeting with Bruce Banner since losing his memory and their quest to investigate the names on the notes Banner has been receiving.
Marvel Knights 20th #3 slows the story down a few beats to show what the Punisher has been doing since meeting Banner. It’s nothing too surprising beyond a couple of cameos of other Marvel heroes with lost memories.
In fact, this might be the weakest issue of the series so far, as it does bring the pacing down to a halt. I can’t say I dislike the roles these other heroes have been put into, and that is the most interesting thing about the comic aside from Frank Castle’s growing inner turmoil.
That turmoil is the driving force for Frank Castle, as he knows deep down that something is off. He’s not married, he’s not a cop, and he has a deep bestial need to inflict harm on wrong-doers beyond any pretense of law and order. I’m hoping we will have a big blowout with Frank the cop grappling with the idea of becoming the violent vigilante Punisher before this story is over.
There is one scene that is a bit strange, and that is when Frank and Bruce meet the Scarlet Witch as a cult leader. She knows intuitively that Frank and Bruce are away from another life they should be living, and she encourages Frank to give into his violent side again through a strange and brutal battle with her followers. There is a lot about this scene that doesn’t quite work for me, namely the abruptness by which the fighting starts and how strangely eagerly Wanda eggs it on.
Also, Donald Blake shows up as a police officer who just unloads on an unseen graffiti artist (though he doesn’t actually hit said “artist”).
Between Wanda as a cult leader, Tony Stark as a self-help writer, and Bruce Banner as a wandering homeless man, we see that these new roles are more funhouse mirror representations than simply what these characters would be doing if they weren’t superheroes and vigilantes. That is interesting, and I do actually dig the idea, especially in seeing that aforementioned role for Tony Stark.
Damian Couceiro’s artwork keeps the grittiness going in this issue and seems to go out of his way to make characters grizzled and off-putting as opposed to attractive. I dig that; it’s definitely in the spirit of Marvel Knights. Even the Hulk looks a bit off. It’s a nice spin on the affected noir aesthetic. Matt Milla’s color art is dark and grim throughout most of the book too, but there is still an energy to the palette in many scenes. The comic looks pretty damn good throughout.
Marvel Knights 20th #3 is the slowest and weakest issue of this MK revival, but that doesn’t mean it’s outright bad. There are many grabbing moments throughout the story, and the characters are still compelling. This one is still worth a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
Marvel Knights 20th #3 comes to us from writers Tini Howard and Donny Cates, artist Damian Couceiro, color artist Matt Milla, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist Geoff Shaw with Rain Beredo, and variant cover artists Jae Lee with June Chung and Kaare Andrews.
[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]