Punisher whispers to him. I can’t hear the words. They sound like the prayers of a priest in the confessional. The scum answers in a rush but I don’t hear the words. I nearly killed him. I wanted to kill him. I’m supposed to be putting that behind me. I had his life in my hands, his fear in my nostrils. It would have been so easy.
And imagine — it was the Punisher who stopped me! The Punisher—!
Marc Spector: Moon Knight #20
Chuck Dixon + Sal Velluto
Even with heroes like Marc Spector, who have a history of violence, Frank doesn’t encourage his morality being followed. He will chastise ‘soft’ approaches, surely, but when it comes down to it, he does not want to see anyone else sink to his level of brutality. Marc is known to struggle with his own history of violence, and sometimes he is more willing to kill than others, which makes his alliances with Frank somewhat less tense than his moments with, for example, Daredevil or Spider-Man. While knowing this, Frank doesn’t coax the more violent side of Marc over the other; he aims to preserve the good in him.
Getting tired of cleaning up your messes. The punk is now in jail after trying to hold up a store with this. I’ve returned it in non-working order.
- D. D.
Punisher War Journal #3
Carl Potts + Jim Lee
Frank is hit with a drug, then jumped by a bunch of punk kids who take him down and shoot him with his own gun. Daredevil, who had been tailing him, comes to his rescue. Later on, in a beautiful display of passive-aggression, Matt gives Frank’s stolen gun back to him.
"Is there another bed?"
"Stop acting like a child."
Punisher: Bloody Valentine
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray + Paul Gulacy
Incredible! Not one man in a thousand could stop my shield like that!
Captain America #241
Mike W Barr, Frank Springer + Pablo Marcos
It is! Within The Punisher Invades the ‘Nam.
At the end of the third tour, when he requested an extension, and he was denied.
It seems less likely that it was because someone was “mad” at him and more to do with the fact that they wanted soldiers to go home for a certain period of time between tours — especially after multiple extensions or multiple tours. At least that’s how I come to understand it.
Either way, inspired after seeing men disrespect his fellow soldiers at a bar, he makes the decision:
Then he sticks with it ever since.
If this is in reference to my previous post, it’s because of this direct quote:
It’s inconsistency among writers. The military exclusive also lists him as US Army. It happens.
Marines is the main consistent intention of the canon but this either gets mixed up or people say SAME DIFFERENCE. I don’t add the note of “PS actually it’s supposed to be Marines” every time, just because that gets taxing.
Also, funny you should ask, since this post is still on the front page of this blog.
You’ve got to move faster than that, son. I think you want to be caught.
You want it all over with, don’t you? It doesn’t have to be prison, Castle. There are other places you can go if you want help.
Punisher War Journal #66
Steven Grant + Hugh Haynes
This plot is yet another event where police forces and superheroes alike take arms against the Punisher, after one step ‘too far.’ Part of this response involves Steve Rogers, who goes out of his way to make this deliberate effort to reach Frank. After this one failed attempt, this endeavor is not touched on again, and that is disappointing as this issue raises a lot of interesting points of characterization.
Steve attempts to reach Frank as a soldier. He stresses understanding and speaks to him with the respect of a fellow service person, while still chastising his brutality. It’s worth note that Frank does not once say a single word to Steve aloud. He does not agree or deny any of Steve’s assumptions. While he keeps himself silent, his inner narrative is heavy: he speaks of how Captain America was a symbol of worship for him in the army, like the flag itself. Knowing he’ll lose hand-to-hand, Frank reads his options as this: shoot Steve or surrender. He viciously refuses to kill Steve (who is already suffering a disease in this point in canon, which Frank picks up on as they fight) and he also refuses to return to prison. His mind stresses and reaches for a third option, but he can’t find one.
However, Steve does offer a third suggestion. He does not specify what exactly but he does say: ‘there are other places you can go.’ The only real option this seems to indicate is that he would see Frank treated like any soldier suffering with PTSD. This coincides with the ongoing theme that the two are very opposite sides of the spectrum as a pair of soldiers: Steve sees this third option, where Frank does not even acknowledge its existence: that is the difference in the kind of men they are. Above all, it seems to indicate that Steve would be willing to be an active figure on Frank’s side, should this be the case, because Frank’s arrests do tend to land him in prison by default, not in any mental health facility — and this is mostly due to his own responses to his arrests and trial. Steve stresses that he understands, and he is willing to help.
The idea of Steve Rogers taking a personal investment in Frank Castle, and the potential of his rehabilitation, speaks a lot for this dynamic
Garth Ennis’s Punisher MAX is undoubtedly the most praised run for Frank Castle’s character. The MAX imprint gave Ennis the freedom to build something much heavier than his 616 stories, and with the series being self-contained without any connection to the Marvel Universe at all, it is a very easy comic to pick up.
The misconception, however, is that the series is not meant to have a continuous narrative.
When Jason Aaron took over the book, he stated in an interview that: “I loved how in Garth’s run it felt like you’d have a new book every five or six issues. There would be some carryover but you could pretty much pick up any arc of the series and get everything you needed to know from it.”
Which is, in a way, true. However, the ‘carryover’ is much more essential than people give credit for: it’s in the presence of Kathryn O’Brien.
There are ten arcs of Ennis’s run. O’Brien appears as a main role in three (In the Beginning, Up is Down and Black is White, and Man of Stone) and is referenced in another two after her death (Widowmaker and Long Cold Dark). One reference is very brief, but poignant, and the other is very heavy — within an arc that would not exist without the full accumulation of their relationship: Long Cold Dark.
Long Cold Dark is the second last arc by Ennis, however, its impact hits much like a finale. The emotional punch of this arc does not work half as well without having already read all that came before it, without knowing of Barracuda, O’Brien, or all that Frank has done to get to this point.
Frank does not experience growth within this series, necessarily, but there are revelations and important introspection which relies on the history between himself and O’Brien. The loss of her life sticks with him, as does the thought that he had come to like her. He hesitates because of her. He shows her humor. He trusts her.
It is a bit discouraging to suggest these arcs are interchangeable, and decidedly robs O’Brien of the credit her character deserves. Her presence is the largest overlapping theme in all of Ennis’s Punisher MAX, and her place in the narrative should not be overlooked.