Robot 6

The Fifth Color | Punishing by committee

A Punisher team-up still seems like a really bad idea. No matter who’s book he guest stars in, the Punisher is just not the guy you want to stand next to for any real length of time. Not only is he a loner by nature, but your average superhero is immediately at odds with something as simple and dangerous as a man with a gun. His motivations just don’t jibe with the code one has to follow to be a hero, let alone a sane human being. To paraphrase Ray Stevenson, who played Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone, no one should want to be the Punisher, but everyone should be glad he’s out there.

That movie title is catchy because it’s very apropos; Frank Castle truly is a one-man war zone. Please note the one-man part. In recent years, there has been some absolutely brilliant comics work showing you just how strange and solitary the Punisher is. Greg Rucka has brought us the pure poetry of life at Punisher’s right hand. Jason Aaron on PunisherMAX drove us right on through how cruel a world can get to create the Punisher. And, of course, Garth Ennis showed us Frank Castle as a force of nature, something that happened to the worst of the criminal element. Not a bogeyman or a fable but cold, dark fact.

So I can’t say the idea of the Punisher as we’ve come to know and love him in recent years would be signing up for a matching uniform to run around with Ross’ Thunderbolts. He’s not a team player. He certainly doesn’t seem like a man who could even tolerate Deadpool for more than it would take to put air in his lungs. How could a one-man war zone work well with others? Well, let me take a moment of your time, Dear Reader, to theorize with you. I think there’s enough duty and dignity to Frank Castle to will allow him to co-exist with comrades-in-arms.

WARNING: One of my examples comes from the absolutely gorgeous Punisher #16 that was released this week, so grab your copy and read along!

Let me give you a quick-and-dirty catch-up on Rucka’s Punisher: Widowed Marine Rachel Cole-Alves has just killed a cop in a moment of chaos. All the revenge she took in killing the criminals that murdered her husband weighs down on her, and the death of Detective Bolt by her own hand is the last straw. Unable to cope with what’s become of her, Rachel Alves is a liability. She and the Punisher split up and Alves makes a suicide call to her last friend, explaining everything. Waiting for the legion of law enforcement after her, she gives in, not up, to the weight of what she’s done. But despite her sniper-clear location, despite her wish to die and her determination to see it through, pointing a gun at another officer, Rachel lives. The Punisher ensures it by having removed the firing pin from her gun earlier and clearing out the snipers. She curses his name as the Punisher watches, alone in the distance.

Writer Julien Smith of Trust Agents and the Flinch recently said there are two major reasons for doing absolutely anything in the world: happiness and duty. While debatable philosophically, it can be said the idea fits Frank Castle to a T. Or a skull. Whatever works for you. It can be said the small smiles and the lengths to kill the criminal element derive from a type of sadism; the Punisher first and foremost has made it his self-appointed duty to punish the guilty. Letting Alves live is part of that duty: He judged her from the moment she was tossed into this criminal cycle, he respected her enough to bring her in on his personal mission and he took away her ability to go out at a suicidal moment. Alves’ story will continue, she’ll be punished, but that she will live is the most important part. She wasn’t guilty enough to die.

Face value says the Punisher kills criminals. That’s his goal, his modus operandi, his raison d’etre. More to that, the Punisher judges others. He undertakes law enforcement without legal authority, but by a moral code. He knows right, he knows wrong and what should be done for either. Without people, the Punisher has nothing. Even in the cruel world that Aaron created for PunisherMAX, Frank Castle has to die. There has to be something greater than himself by which to measure the guilty.

In Civil War, the Punisher followed Captain America and helped the Resistance until it came into direct conflict with his personal duty. Captain America tossed him out on his ear after the Punisher shot two criminals the Resistance was about to work with, and that was that. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go very well but it did prove the Punisher could exist under a higher authority. Now, imagine if that higher authority actually shares the Punisher’s duty and values …

Enter Thunderbolt Ross. This man has waged his own one-man war against an unstoppable threat to all he holds dear. As the Red Hulk, he tried to personally assassinate Cyclops during Avengers vs. X-Men, taking this dirty task upon himself to keep the Avengers’ hands clean. He’s a decorated general and could probably swap a war story or two with Frank Castle. Most importantly, General Ross has a similar if not matching devotion to the acts he considers his duty and the ones undertaken with that special shade of sadism. Violence doesn’t bother him one bit and, against the enemy, all the sweeter.

The Punisher won’t be climbing on the Avengers bus, but he might drive down the same road for a while. He couldn’t fall under the leadership of Captain America because they don’t share the same values anymore, no matter how much respect there might be. Thunderbolt Ross shares those values and isn’t foolish enough to grab a handful of anti-heroes for his team without knowing if they’re going to fall in step with him. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Still not sure about Deadpool, though.

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Comments

26 Comments

First, Frankencastle… then Metal Gear Solid Castle… now this. Can we PLEASE get some Punisher stories that are true to the character, please? The ones like good ol’ Garth used to make? Not every character at Marvel has to be on a team, or an X-man or an Avenger. Wait… who am I kidding? Yes, they do!

Yes, anybody that understands the character of Punisher took about 1 second to figure out that this is a terrible idea. The problem is, the Marvel characters have been in the hands of people who don’t understand the characters for about 10 years running

I think an occaisional Punisher team-up is ok, as long as the super hero is reluctant and believes the alliance is only temporary because their missions intersect. I do think the Punisher is a loner and shouldn’t be on a team despite his occaisional team-ups. But I also think the same thing about Spider-man. Marvel seems determined to have every one of their popular characters on at least one team; needless to say I don’t like this trend.

I’m not crazy about the idea of Punisher being a member of the Thunderbolts, but not counting the upcoming War Zone mini, there’s really no other place to catch Punisher in Marvel Now! I’ll go here to get my fix. I hope it works out. I just have this terrible feeling that Punisher will be pegged as the grumpy old team member. That’s the path of least resistance creatively and I don’t want to see him shoehorned like that. Again, I hope that isn’t the case.

I will say that Punisher fans have been quite spoiled with excellent Punisher comics over the last decade. Between Garth Ennis, Jason Aaron, and Greg Rucka, he’s been in the hands of some excellent writers (and some superb artists too!). Even Remender’s non-Frankencastle issues were great, despite the fact that the Frankencastle stuff was probably the biggest WTF moment in Marvel comics this past decade.

I am staying away from this. Why would the Punisher fight guys that Red Hulk fights?

Really, Thunderbolts should only last an issue with the Punisher: HE tries to kill Elektra, either he succeeds or she kills him, and done. Everything we know about Castle says that there is no way he would ever work for an assassin like her. That’s really the core problem with this book.

it proves how desperate marvel in making every character team-player

I was a big fan of the Puniser War Zone when John Romita Jr was drawing. I don’t care about sarcastic, annoying, characters like Deadpool.

Red Hulk, Elektra, and Punisher are complex and intriguing characters. I am really looking forward to the new Thunderbolts book.

But Anoneemous Solid Castle by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto was a good thing, and was pretty damn true to a character.

I guess we’ll have to see the comic to see if there is some rationale for it, but it’s a hard sell. And Deadpool? Surely Cable and X-Force is the natural fit for him?

Hope they remember that Electra has the hots for Frank!

Better Deadpool than a lame character like Red Hulk.

Although Way can’t write for DP to save his life,so that’s a concern.

I’m interested because Red Hulk has become a GREAT character. What makes Thunderbolt Ross ticks has always been the mission, same as Frank. I am a Punisher fan, and I despise the senseless-b-flick killing that others seem to love. I like when a writer really gets into his head. Remender’s Punisher was great, until they got into that Frankencastle stuff, then it was just so left-field…and his Venom is good as well. If any team can work with Frank, this one can…maybe NOT Deadpool but remember Frank also teams up with Spidey annually, so i don’t think it will be that bad,

If not on a team, there would be no way we would see much of Punisher. I’m gonna check it out

Deadpool and Punisher worked together in Suicide Kings, along with Daredevil and Spidey, and that was my favorite Deadpool story to date. I would bet that the way their relationship played out in that mini is how they will interact in Thunderbolts.

Well the thunderbolts team is the code read team that Red hulk put together before…and yeah Deadpool and Punisher will work the missions…but that won’t stop Frank from wanting to hurt Wade…so hopefully Wade will have his healing factor back.

I think if Way takes allows his portrayal of the character be less informed from his own work on the titular Deadpool book and more from Remender’s work on the character in Uncanny X-Force, this will all tie together and sing really well. My impression has been that that is the intention here, but things can always swing in an unexpected direction.

I’m hoping for some interesting Punisher/Venom interaction. Flash has been on a path of right and wrong filled with heartache. Working with Punisher could push him in either direction.

Some people here leave comments as if they’re experts, even if it seems like they’ve read only one Punisher book in their life. Aside from the new Venom, Punisher has worked with all these characters before, so the idea that he should be trying to kill them is ridiculous. And despite Frank’s notorious lone wolf image, he served his country as a Marine captain and leader of men, so while he prefers to work alone it’s not that shocking to imagine him working well in a group of like-minded individuals.

Rucka did a lot to try and show how well Frank can do in a sort of strike-team with Rachel, and in their crossover with DD and Spidey. This last Punisher book by Rucka was in my opinion the best mainstream run since Ennis’ MK run, and after War Zone I know I’ll miss Rucka’s take dearly. However, this new Thunderbolts idea has me intrigued to say the least. The idea of Frank getting even more headway in the wider MU and building even more relationships with established characters is a good thing

Since Frankencastle the Punisher bares no real interest to me anymore. Even back then when Frank was this alien angel guy I had serious trouble continuing to like the character and only did so because of Garth Ennis. But with Frankencastele Marvel really sailed of away from my support.

Marvel can jump as many sharks as they like NOW, I stopped caring a long time ago.

This version of the Thunderbolts is a perfect example of the problems that I have with the current Marvel Regime:

Thunderbolt Ross- Formerly a normal person who was an antagonist for the Hulk. Big idea: Let’s make him a Hulk!

Flash Thompson- Formerly an antagonist/friend of Peter Parker. Big idea: Let’s make him Venom!

The Punisher- Former antagonist of Spider-Man, loner/vigilante. Worked the outskirts of the Marvel U. Big Idea: Let’s make him a Captain America fanboy/monster/member of the Thunderbolts

Elektra- To paraphrase what Bendis said about Prof. X: “Has more meaning dead than alive”

Deadpool- Would have done fine with any of the recent lineups of the Thunderbolts and might have even boosted sales.

This version of the Thunderbolts to me is basically just members of the Marvel creative team playing with action figures that are really cool.

I would really like to see preview art for this too.. not exactly what you would call a steve dillon fan.

to Adam Walker: So, you hate on Rucka’s Punisher, because of an entirely different comic book, that was done by entirely different creative team and is pretty much enitrely different?

okey

@Cylon

Hate would overrate my comment a bit. Just because I think the core element of what made Punisher interesting to me went lost with Frankencastle doesn’t mean I hate the fictional person called Frank Castle. Adding to that, there isn’t much I really hate and won’t waste nerves and emotion on a comic book character.
Life might not be great, but certainly not worth being miserable all the time.

These characters, except for the red hulk, are basically pulp characters who kill things and people.
Dynamite entertainment brings their pulp heroes: green hornet, shadow, Zorro, black-bat, & others together in the 1930’s to battle those the government cant, at a time when under certain circumstances, they wouldn’t get caught.—-so marvels answer: thunderbolts with the punisher.—this is lame. –in this time period, we have something called high tech surveillance…so much so that this team would not only have to be government sanctioned, but U.N. sanctioned to avoid other countries hunting them, and killing them, which is not realistic, considering s.h.i.e.l.d. even has multiple problems with everyone on this team. -its a lame attempt to throw pulp heroes of a modern era at the wall, and see if they stick with fans.

It is what it is. This is the “spaghetti on the wall” age of comics. I’m a fan of Rulk, myself, and I’ll probably check this out. But honestly AvX whittled away a lot of the good will I had for Marvel books. So I’m very judicious on what I pick up from them (and DC these days too).

It really sucks that if I want to read the Punisher this is my only on-going source. I personally don’t care for marvel or its’ universe and have only read Punisher from their lineup. Please bring back the Punisher Max series.

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