The original comic-book incarnation of The Punisher may have spent the last forty years racking up a truly impressive number of kills, but unfortunately this high slaughter-rate isn’t quite matched by an equivalent level of spectacle. Unlike his more outlandish and colorful equivalents, the Earth-616 version of Frank Castle merrily plows his way through the lower echelons of crime, only killing the occasional super-villain. Well, all that just changed, as the latest issue of the current Punisher run sees Frank taking out a BIG NAME bad guy…
Of course, it would be unfair to work on the assumption that Castle doesn’t ever kill anybody above the rank of ‘henchman’. Most of his extended vendettas do see him taking the life of some level of super-powered foe. Though if you’ve never heard of the zombie-controlling Black Talon or monster-hunting Robert Hellsgaard, then you’re probably not alone. It’s this calibre and quality of enemy that the Marvel writers offer up to Frank, rather than sacrificing their big guns.
Up until now, the only storyline to buck this trend was the original Civil War run back in 2006, which saw The Punisher murder five recurring Marvel baddies. Frank opened his account by firing a rocket up the ass of longtime Spider-Man foe Stilt-Man, before emptying his handgun into the hapless villain’s face. He then goes OK to machine-gun both Jester and Jack O’Lantern in order to save an injured Spidey. Lastly, things go VERY WRONG when he elects to murder Goldbug and Diamondback, halfway through their negotiations to join up with Team Cap.
Frank’s most recent adventures saw him acquiring a set of War Machine armour from Nick Fury Jr, in order to pursue a course of conduct that would benefit both parties. Keeping this tech longer than he was supposed to bought the notorious vigilante into conflict with the Avengers, though not before he had managed to track down Baron Zemo and a whole host of other HYDRA leaders.
Understandably pissed at HYDRA’s actions in the recent Secret Empire storyline, Frank decides to wipe them off the face of the map, and it’s this new crusade that brings him face to face with one of the biggest villains in Marvel history. The Mandarin. So how does The Punisher succeed where Iron Man has spent the last 55 years failing to put and end to The Mandarin’s tyranny? With a bullet to the brain. That’s how….
— Comicnewbies (@Comicnewbies) August 27, 2018
The decision to take such a big playing-piece off the board at such an early point in Frank’s conflict with HYDRA sets the stage for yet more shocking deaths. And despite the fact that death rarely means actual death in the world of Marvel comics, the indifferent and brutal way in which the company has just used The Punisher has certainly created a new dark and intriguing path for readers to follow…