Welcome to the Bayou is a little different for a Punisher story, so that’s a promising start from Victor Gischler. Instead of the Punisher in the darkness of the city at night, he’s down in Louisiana on his way to New Orleans with something or someone unknown in the boot of his car when he makes a pit stop at a remote petrol station and store. Also there are some vacationing kids who’d earlier passed him on the road. Something about the place raises hackles, and his choice is whether to trust his instincts or continue on his way.

There’s no extra marks for originality as Gischler delivers the cannibal family from hell, throwing in every known trope from alligators to the beautiful daughter completely at odds with ugly inbreds otherwise infesting the swamp. However, for such stories it’s not gritty atmosphere that’s needed, but a surfeit of gut-heaving horror, and artist Goran Parlov revels in that. There’s a great fluidity to his movement as alligators leap from the water and assorted people meet a grisly end at the point of something sharp. This isn’t a story meant to be taken remotely seriously, and Parlov’s characters are like the muties Carlos Ezquerra scattered all over Judge Dredd.

Also included is ‘Little Black Book’ by Gishler, taking a contrasting serious tone as the Punisher hunts down a gangster now seemingly well beyond the reach of most people, having consolidated and legitimised his businesses. The narrative is that of the woman who’s slept her way to an impressive contact list yet has never learned how dangerous some people are. Hang around with the Punisher, though, and it’s a lesson that comes easy. After the unusual brightness of the title story, Jefté Palo heads deep into the black ink for this slab of darkness.

Both stories are creative in exploring different aspects of the Punisher, but for some reason in the UK this is in high demand, so it might be better looking for the same material in The Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Vol. 5.