Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 3:42:07 GMT -5
The Punisher #19 (June 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Part 1" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
"Maria Elizabeth Castle 1948-1976
Lisa Castle 1967-1976
Frank David Castle 1971-1976"
Nicky Cavella is back. He and a couple mooks are at the Castle gravesite. As they start digging he says he finally figured out how to get to Frank.
In prison Kathryn O'Brien is showering alone. Three very large women come at her with intent to rape. She effortlessly beats them and tells them that they aren't scary. She's seen scary and they don't come close. One of the women promises revenge.
At a Starbucks the Generals are meeting with Rawlins. There is a loose end left to clear up from the Barbarossa incident. Rawlins knows that even the Generals aren't dumb enough to take a shot at Nick Fury so theres only one person they could mean...
In Queens Frank Castle is at work. A gangster named Horace "Spoonie" Moore got a call from a business associate telling him to go **** himself. Horace didn't know that Frank had the associate at gunpoint. The two were running heroin, a big time operation. A simple insult was enough to trigger an ambush and Frank was waiting. As he guns them down Castle notes how odd it is that neo-Nazis would hook up with the homeboys. Last year he did a lot of damage, tearing chunks out of the mob, the Westies and the Russians, creating a vaccuum. When something comes along to fill that vaccuum he steps in.
Frank takes cover as the remaining gangsters hit him all at once. His 12 gauge is out so he draws his pistol. The gangsters are inaccurate and he is able to easily pick them off one by one. Before executing a survivor he tells them "They put the sights on the top for a reason."
Nicky has called a meeting with the remnants of the mob. The bosses are the Peter Principle in action. They were alright as soldiers but they never would have made capo, let alone boss. The Punisher has given them their promotions. They aren't earning anywhere near as much as they were a year back and their crews have no respect for them. One of the "bosses" insults Pittsy. You remember him, right? The impossible-to-kill old man? He's got a sister named Teresa and shes twice as ugly as he was and working with Nicky and she takes great offense to people insulting her brother.
Nicky promises to get the mob back in order in exchange for being made boss. The wiseguys don't like it. Nicky has a reputation for being a nut and even if he was boss it wouldn't matter since everyone just gets killed anyway. Nicky points out that he has survived an encounter with the Punisher and tells them he has a plan. They just have to watch the 6 o'clock news.
O'Brien is in her cell when one of the women who assaulted her comes back. O'Brien disarms her but finds herself holding a bloody shank. In the corridor she sees a stabbed guard. It's a frame-up.
A bar ful of people are watching the news. A videotape was sent to the station. One adult skeleton and two small ones are laid out in front of the Castle grave. A stream of urine hits the bones. The camera pans up: It's Nicky.
One of the patrons says "That guy is gonna go ****in' berserk..." Unbeknownst to him, Frank Castle is sitting behind him looking quite unhappy indeed.
Observations: Back in New York, back with the mob. Dialog establishes it's been over a year since the first arc. The detail of the setting is still strong. Like the second arc there are no leaves on the trees, establishing this arc as being set in the fall or winter while Mother Russia was in the spring or summer (easy to forget since most of it was set within the Arctic circle), again showing the passage of time. If the first arc was set in Spring of 2004 this one would be in the tail end of 2005 or perhaps early 2006, pushing the series timeline a few months ahead of real time. These details are subtle and easy to miss which makes it all the more impressive.
After three arcs of groundwork Ennis is starting to refer back to previous stories and move forward with the overarching plot. Nicky Cavella and Kathryn O'Brien hail from "In the Beginning" while the Generals and Rawlins make this a direct followup to "Mother Russia." The Generals are indeed coming after Frank, using Rawlins to do it. And Frank's assault on the Cesare party is still leaving ripples. The mob is castrated and crime in general is feeling the effects, as seen by the neo-nazis working with black street gangs. This uneasy climate has created an opening for Nicky to seize power. I'm reminded of the Joker's plan in The Dark Knight, although this predates it by a few years and instead of an exploding girlfriend it features desecrated corpses. It was my understanding that bones break down into dust after 20 years or so but I could be wrong. Nicky's tactic is something so obscene it could never happen in a mainstream Marvel mag.
Something is obviously building with O'Brien's plot. She's been set-up and her encounter with Castle has obviously left an effect on her. Her first scene is also the first scene of really gratuitous nudity so far, as she fights off her would-be rapists completely nude. The nudity isn't totally explicit, only bared breasts and bottom, but the casual nudity is yet another element that further distances the book from typical Marvel fare and aligns it more with HBO programming.
Frank's fight with the black gang, particularly his finishing one-liner, is classic. Nice bit of humor from an otherwise humorless character.
Art-wise Fernandez is back. I loved his arc in "Kitchen Irish" and he's still great here. Very clean work. Instead of inking himself hes now inked by Scott Hanna, who gives him perhaps an even clean line. Dan Brown takes over from Dean White but his work is no less moody and is stylistically very similar.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 4:47:54 GMT -5
The Punisher #20 (June 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Part 2" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
Summary: A man is led out into the snowy wood. His tormenter killed his wife and daughter. His tormenter is young Nicky Cavella, his son, and he blows his Dad's head clean off.
In the present Nicky is waiting while the mob bosses debate signing him on. Teresa listens in on the conversation. Most are in favor but Joey doesn't like him. Nicky knows they'll cave eventually, although Joey might have to be killed.
In the past Nicky is being consoled by one of his father's mooks. Nicky blames his uncle Jimmy for the killings. His Auntie Mo shows up and smothers him with a hug. She says that Uncle Jimmy would always walk his victims into the wood as a form of psychological torture and that Jimmy should be killed right away. Nicky is going to be the boss and Mo, as his guardian, stands as his regent. When the soldiers leave Mo congratulates Nicky on his good work lying and killing. They've got a successful future ahead of them.
Years later Nicky and Mo are having sex. Tears are running down Nicky's face.
Later, Mo has a man named Ronnie Gavigan tied to a chair in the basement. He owns three bars bought with mob loans and hes been saying that the Cavellas don't have the stones to collect. For his birthday Nicky is allowed to torture and kill him.
In the present Teresa murders Joey Picardi in the men's room. She loads his corpse into the trunk of a car, dumps the car in the river and takes the subway back to the meeting.
In the past Nicky is again having sex with Auntie Mo. But this time he is older and he smothers her with a pillow.
As a young soldier he is tasked to intimidate a Chinese boss named Kai on the orders of Don Cesare. He meets Kai alone in Kai's restaurant. Kai is dissmissive and says that he has three sons who could destroy the Italians. Nicky says he only has two sons, as the third was killed when he was walking hom from Junior High and is now boiling in the pot of soup Kai has been eating from. Nicky didn't come alone either, Pittsy and Ink are hiding in the meat locker. Kai's other two sons are killed and Nicky leaves him to his misery.
Nicky's actions get him in hot water. He doesn't understand why, since he didn't violate the order to not kill Kai, but now the Italians are going to go to war and Nicky is being banished to Boston.
In the present Teresa tells Nicky that they voted in his favor. Looking out at the city he curses his parents, his sister, his uncle, his aunt, Kai, Kai's sons, Don Cesare, Ink, Pittsy and The Punisher. And he swears that when he reaches heaven he will curse God as well.
Observations: Interesting issue. Frank Castle doesn't appear in a single panel. The focus is entirely on Nicky Cavella. While his backstory is a bit cliche, it's a pretty good read. He was manipulated into killing his family by his aunt, but he obviously had preexisting issues. Then he was raised in a mix of incest and violence, which turns out to be Auntie Mo's downfall (if you're grooming a psycho common sense says don't continually rape him). We find out the exact incident that got him sent to Boston fifteen years prior (which would be in 1989), which is a really great and sick moment of mob violence. In the end the ultimate insight we get into the character is that he apparently hates everything and wants nothing more than the power his Auntie Mo promised him. He's pretty much a one-note psycho which if not compelling is at least entertaining.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 5:20:41 GMT -5
The Punisher #21 (July 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Part 3" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
Frank Castle grabs his keys, zips up his jacket and stares dead-eyed at the pile of guns, ammuniation and explosives before him.
Agent Roth is woken up by Kathryn O'Brien banging at the door of his apartment. Shes busted out of jail since killing the guard would be the excuse the Pentagon needs to assassinate her. As for Roth, he's been sent out to pasture and been enduring a life without testicles. O'Brien makes at attempt at pity before demanding a new identity, passport, ID, etc. Then she notices the front page of the paper: "DEFILED"
Outside of a strip club the Punisher stabs a bouncer and holds another at knifepoint. He snarls a name and is directed to the private party room in the back. He slashes the bouncer's throat and heads inside. He announces his entrance by shooting out the PA system. He tells the strippers to leave and takes aim at the party.
While Roth cooks up new papers O'Brien watches the news in disgust. She feels a man's family should be sacred, while Roth just suggests that her sexual attraction to Frank is making her sentimental. He asks if she wants to go back to being Kathyrn McCallister then notices that her ex-husband is in town: Rawlins. She asks where he is. He tells her. She asks if he can get her a gun. Easy. Wait, wut?
Back at the strip club the cops are inspecting the carnage. Everyone is dead. They all have leg wounds: He took them down at the knees then executed them all. A few tried to fight back but it was a slaughter, nobody was prepared. Even for him it's bad. But theres one survivor buried under the bodies and he carries a message: Bury his family. At that moment they get a call from the commissioner. Frank just did it again.
The new reports the story. So far tonight Castle has hit three targets. The most recent attack was on two black youth gangs at war with each other. The two gangs had called a meeting to discuss peace terms, except neither of them called the meeting. The death toll at the meeting was upwards of thirty, breaking the total for the evening up to 68. At all three massacres a survivor was left to repeat the message. After the second attack the NYPD said they wouldn't give in to intimidation and that the remains are evidence in an investigation. After the third the NYPD is silent.
Nicky watches the news, pleased with his work. He's surprised that Frank hasn't gone crazy. Rather than go right for Nicky, blinded by vengeance, his priority his getting his family back to rest. Nicky expects to see him soon though. Then an associate comes in with a message, saying an old friend has come to visit: Rawlins.
Elsewhere, Frank sticks a pistol through the viewport of a metal door. "Open it." The man behind the door opens up and gets shot. Frank moves in with his M60, killing everyone he sees.
"There's a dream I have from time to time. And in the dream I don't stop. I kill the soldiers and the hitmen. The extortioners and racketeers. The dark old ****s who send them out to fight. I hold the trigger down until they're all gone. But I don't stop. The innocents are watching, just like always. The slack-jawed thousands, gazing at the beast. My family lie red and shredded in the grass. I face the crowd and bring the weapon to my shoulder. If my world ends, I tell them, so does yours. The recoil starts and I wake up. It's just a dream, I always tell myself. It's just a dream."
Observations: Last issue was no Frank. This issue is all Frank. But importantly, it's almost all external. We see him prepare but we don't hear his inner monologue or actually see him in action until the end. Most of what we see is the aftermath of his attacks. 68 shot down in one night. It's debatable if capital punishment is effective but I think this would give even the most ruthless criminals pause.
We got a bit of O'Brien's backstory. What are the odds of her being Rawlin's ex-wife? Sounds unbelievable at first but they did both work at the CIA. Rawlins being connected to Nicky is more unlikely but an interesting twist. Rawlins is after Frank, Frank is after Nicky, Nicky is after Frank, Nicky is associated with Rawlins, O'Brien is after Rawlins and O'Brien wants to get in bed with Frank. Things are brewing. And of course, it has to be noted that Kathryn O'Brien is Kathryn McCallister from Ennis' Hitman series. Which means that in some way or another Superman and The Punisher are in the same universe.
This issue probably warrants a B but because I love seeing Frank open up and go crazy on human garbage I'm giving it an A.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 6:49:44 GMT -5
The Punisher #22 (August 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Part 4" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
Night time. Two kids are breaking into a jewelry store. One of them is arguing against it. The Punisher has gone crazy, he's killing everybody. His partner says they shouldn't worry about it, the Punisher doesn't go after guys like them. But what if thats not true anymore? The run.
Frank Castle sits in the firey wreckage of Times Square. The streets are covered in corpses. Cars burn. He's killed everybody. He turns and sees his family. They tell him they're still dead. He wakes up and he's behind the wheel. He's never been this angry. It goes beyond hot rage, it's getting colder and building. Only now does he realize he caught a bullet on his left arm.
Nicky doesn't want any involvement with Rawlins. Rawlins is here because they're after the same thing and might as well partner up. They know each other from Nicky's time in Boston. Nicky would move the heroin Rawlins was smuggling from Kabul. To convince him Rawlins gets on his knees and performs fellatio.
Watching through the window from a car across the street O'Brien is disgusted. Roth is with her. She tells him that on their "honeymoon" (really a smuggling run in Kabul) Rawlins pushed her out of the helicopter in order to save his load of heroin. The Mujahs got her and kept her as a sex slave.
The Mayor is holding a meeting. He is under a lot of pressure to put an end to the Punisher. Criminal lawyers are complaining about the rights of their clients, saying that anyone the Mayor can't indict is being thrown to the Punisher. The Police Commissioner says he'd bring in Castle if he could. However, theres a complication. Castle has never killed a civilian but an operation to take him in would likely result in civilians being caught in the crossfire. And if he was imprisoned he would empty the prisons. It's a no win situation. But at least crime rates have plummeted. The Commissioner does have a possible solution though. If the city gives into his demands (the Mayor is very anxious about Castle being labeled a terrorist by the press) then he will likely move onto Nicky Cavella. If he kills Cavella then he'll go back to his normal routine, which they turn a blind eye to. If Cavella kills Castle then problem solved. And if they kill each other than everybody wins. The Mayor tells his PR people to spin it hard.
In the post-coital glow Rawlins asks Nicky about Teresa. He insists that she is in love with him but Nicky is disgusted by the idea of it. Rawlins mocks them with their affair and Nicky gets physical. Bad idea. Rawlins gets him in a hold and warns him: If Nicky plays nicely the Punisher will end up dead and he'll never see Rawlins again. If he betrays Rawlins and leaves him alive he'll be tortured to death. If he dies then a sex tape they made will be made public and after a year of being humiliated Rawlins' friends will kill him. Rawlins caps the visit by mocking Nicky's personal history, saying he talks in his sleep.
At a press conference the mayor's office announces the reburial of the Castle family remains. Frank turns off the radio. Satisfied, he sets his sights on Nicky. He knows the best place to hit them is at Tony Pizzo's restaurant. He knows he's doing exactly what they expect and that he's making a massive mistake but his anger is forcing him to move forward and kill Nicky.
Rawlins has predicted Frank's move. He sits Nicky alone on the restaurant patio and heads up to an opposing rooftop with a sniper rifle. Frank parks in front of the restaurant. He knows he's walking into a trap and knows that a bunch of soldiers are going to come out guns blazing. He walks towards Nicky and sees his fear. As he raises his gun O'Brien takes out Rawlins on the roof and shoots Nicky. Frank takes cover as O'Brien opens fire on the soldiers.
Observations: Crime is down. The issue opens with a first hand example of how Frank's current madness is spooking even the otherwise safe crooks, while crooks higher on the food chain are terrified for their lives. For the first time we see the city's administration discussing Frank. The unofficial policy is to let him carry on. He gets a dozen crooks a week (thats 624 a year or 18,000 since his family was murdered) and it's more dangerous to take him down. It's an uneasy subject with the NYPD being accused of harboring sympathies for him.
We also get a more detailed answer to a question hinted at last issue: What would The Punisher do if he killed all of the criminals? The answer, apparently, is move on to killing ordinary, happy civilians. Or at least, thats what the darker part of his psyche says. We've known since Born that The Punisher is fundamentally damaged and that the death of his family merely gave him a target. But we now know that he is at least aware of the futility of his mission, even if he's in denial. That's interesting because at the same time we're also seeing the Punisher at his most effect. Not only has he killed off most of the existing organized crime, he's now officially functioning as a deterrent to lower the number of criminals replacing the ones he kills.
The relationship between Rawlins and Nicky is interesting. Not because it's a homosexual relationship, although I do wonder if his experiences with Auntie Mo warped him (as homophobic as that sounds), but because of the power dynamic. So far Nicky has been getting by on his reputation: He's a ruthless psychopath and a very dangerous man. But next to Rawlins he's a twerp. Rawlins even mocks Nicky's incredibly generic backstory. As we find out from O'Brien, Rawlins is a real piece of work (not that we didn't already know that, seeing as how he's culpable for the death of an entire airliner's worth of innocent people). Theres also Nicky's relationship with Teresa. Rawlins says shes in love with Nicky and Nicky is repulsed. Is it because Teresa is basically Pittsy in a wig and thus the ugliest thing since Jame Gumb? Or is it because she looks like a very aged and very rough version of Auntie Mo (they're both plus-sized women with dumpy frames)?
There are a lot of angles at play, surprising for a story that began with the bones of children getting peed on. B
Wounds gained this issue: - Gun shot to left arm.
Past issues: - Seven gunshot wounds across his body (Born #4) - Seven stun rounds to the body, hand and face (The Punisher #2) - A bullet fired at point blank range grazing his forehead (The Punisher #5) - Right arm grazed by a shotgun (The Punisher #5) - Hit in the chest and possibly other parts of his body by a shotgun through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Fell through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Shot in a left rib by a shotgun at point blank range. (The Punisher #6) - Lung grabbed and squeezed through the wound in his side. (The Punisher #6) - Punched in the face. (The Punisher #6) - Slashed on the right forearm, right thigh and left side of the head (The Punisher #6) - Right hand stabbed by shard of glass (The Punisher #6) - Stabbed in the back at least once (The Punisher #6) - Caught in an explosion resulting in a nosebleed and bleeding from the ears. (The Punisher #7) - Upper left arm impaled by shard of glass. (The Punisher #7) - Grenade shrapnel to the right arm (The Punisher #12) - Probable concussion (from grenade) (The Punisher #12) - Smashed through a bar, delivering blunt force trauma (The Punisher #14) - Right eye socket broken (The Punisher #16) - Head repeatedly smashed with an AK47. (The Punisher #16)
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 8:50:02 GMT -5
The Punisher #23 (September 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Part 5" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
Teresa unloads both barrels of a 12-gauge shotgun into Frank's chest. He's wearing a vest but that only stops the penetration, not the impact and he's knocked on his butt. O'Brien dumps Rawlins in the trunk of Roth's car while Teresa packs Nicky into their car. One mobster starts making a move towards the still stunned Frank. O'Brien runs him over and hauls Frank into the backseat.
O'Brien tells Frank that she saved him because her ex-husband was trying to kill him and anyone he's trying to kill is probably alright. She also tells him how much of an idiot he's been. Frank recognizes the pair as being spooks but she says they're retired.
Meanwhile, Nicky checks out his wound. Thanks to the vest he'll be alright but the round penetrated a quarter inch. He promises to teach O'Brien a lesson in penetration.
Rawlins comes to tied to a chair in Roth's kitchen. After Rawlins mocks O'Brien's stay in Kabul she excuses herself. Won't be able to interrogate Rawlins if he's dead. Rawlins says that after being tortured by Columbians in 1992 Frank Castle will be nothing to him.
Outside Nicky and Teresa are watching the place. Nicky wants to wait until he's got some cannon fodder between him and Castle before he makes his move. Teresa makes a dreadfully clumsy pass at him that he fails to pick up on.
Frank manages to interrograte Rawlins and got the scoop: The cabal of generals sent him to assassinate Castle. Castle is considering hitting the generals but right now Cavella is his priority. Roth tells Frank to record Rawlins' confession in order to blackmail the generals. O'Brien questions if Rawlins would comply but Frank says he'll do what he's told.
While Roth goes to buy more liquor O'Brien cleans up the shot in Frank's arm. She pulls out the bullet and stitches him up and asks if he wants to jump in the sack. He's down with it.
Nicky and Teresa are still waiting for backup outside. Teresa decides it's the right moment to make her move and goes in for the big damn kiss. Nicky calls her a pig and things get awkward.
Inside a more compatible pairing have finished their business. O'Brien asks what Frank did to Rawlins. Frank took one of his eyes out. Charming pillow talk. Frank asks why she helped him. She said she's been thinking about him a lot and how wrong it is that the government approached him like an animal to be set upon people. She signed up for the gig as a way out of prison. Then she saw what Nicky did to his family's grave and saw Frank's self-destruction and decided she shouldn't end like that. She says she's been at it for almost 20 years and she still falls for the wrong guy. Frank tells her to stop talking stupid and she tells him not to flatter himself and they engage in round two.
Meanwhile, the other couple is in an awful state. The backup is too scared to show up and Nicky has to drive out and meet them. He tries to defuse the awkwardness with Teresa by offering his coat but shes not hearing any of it.
The house is quiet. Rawlins is asleep, Roth is playing Solitaire and Frank and O'Brien are snoozing after their tryst. Nobody notices Teresa standing at the foot of the bed with a big knife in her hand.
Observations: What does it take to get Frank Castle out of a funk? Shoot him with a shotgun at point blank range, apparently. Frank is pulled out his haze of self-destruction and can finally think clearly again. The burgeoning relationship with O'Brien is the heart of the issue. Romance is a tricky subject with The Punisher. He's a man who crusades in the name of his dead wife and denies himself most pleasure in life. For most characters like this the hero is celibate or nearly so (to the point where it was actually a focus on Rorschach's skewering of the archetype). But Ennis doesn't go for the obvious here. Even though Frank is all-business he's still a heterosexual man and his wife has been dead for thirty years. He can have and enjoy sex, which is kind of crazy considering how little else he seems to enjoy. And the way this relationship is intercut with the events going in Nicky's world is a nice bit of sitcom-y humor.
There are some timeline clues given but I'll address that in a separate post.
Wounds gained this issue: - Shotgun to the chest, mitigated by bulletproof vest.
Past issues: - Seven gunshot wounds across his body (Born #4) - Seven stun rounds to the body, hand and face (The Punisher #2) - A bullet fired at point blank range grazing his forehead (The Punisher #5) - Right arm grazed by a shotgun (The Punisher #5) - Hit in the chest and possibly other parts of his body by a shotgun through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Fell through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Shot in a left rib by a shotgun at point blank range. (The Punisher #6) - Lung grabbed and squeezed through the wound in his side. (The Punisher #6) - Punched in the face. (The Punisher #6) - Slashed on the right forearm, right thigh and left side of the head (The Punisher #6) - Right hand stabbed by shard of glass (The Punisher #6) - Stabbed in the back at least once (The Punisher #6) - Caught in an explosion resulting in a nosebleed and bleeding from the ears. (The Punisher #7) - Upper left arm impaled by shard of glass. (The Punisher #7) - Grenade shrapnel to the right arm (The Punisher #12) - Probable concussion (from grenade) (The Punisher #12) - Smashed through a bar, delivering blunt force trauma (The Punisher #14) - Right eye socket broken (The Punisher #16) - Head repeatedly smashed with an AK47. (The Punisher #16) - Gunshot to the left arm (The Punisher #22)
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 9:49:29 GMT -5
The Punisher #24 (October 2005)
"Up Is Down and Black Is White, Final Part" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Hanna Colorist: Dan Brown
Summary: Teresa stabs Frank in the left shoulder and punches O'Brien right out of bed. O'Brien goes for the gun but Teresa starts kicking the crap out of her, raging about how Frank killed her brother and how O'Brien still shagged him and how nobody wants to shag her (ugh). Roth comes in with a gun but runs like a girl when he series Teresa. The distraction lets O'Brien bite Teresa's nose off while Frank rips the knife out. Doesn't matter though since Teresa immediately beats him over the head with the nightstand and starts clawing his eyes out. O'Brien manages to shoot her dead, a swell end to a romantic evening.
Meanwhile, Nicky is screwed. His soldiers refuse to work for him. They're tired of his crap. Anyone who deals with him and the Punisher ends up dead. Nicky tries to invoke their Omerta but the guys aren't buying it. They're tiring of dying for ungrateful bosses. Nicky tells them that he's the boss and will be obeyed but so what? He can't have anybody whacked because the Punisher has killed the entire mob. Nicky flees.
At the apartment O'Brien patches Frank up while Roth excuses his sorry behaviour. He thought Teresa was Pittsy in a wig, back to take the rest of his manhood. They head into the kitchen and film Rawlins' confession.
Frank is satisfied with the material he gets while O'Brien prepares to film the rest of his confession to get her back into the pentagon's good graces. She comments on how messed up their lives are, how they're both so accustomed to horrible things. Frank says that up is down and black is white and one day you wake up and see how the world is.
They leave the apartment and see Nicky just sitting there in his car, looking for Teresa. He doesn't know shes dead. He spots them and grabs a passing kid as a hostage and plays up his psycho rep. Frank tells him that rep only gets you so far and after that you've got nothing. He psyches him out, telling him if he kills the kid he'll die bad but that a small part of him thinks he'll be alright if he lets the kid go. He's right, Nicky lets the kid go and surrenders.
O'Brien goes back in the apartment and finds Roth murdered by Rawlins. She regrets bringing him back into their world. Frank tells her to skip town.
Frank hauls Nicky out of the trunk of his car. They're in the woods, out in the snow. Nicky is reminded of his father's murder and panics. As Frank marches him through the trees he begs and pleads with God, repenting his sins and apologizing for everything he did. Frank shoots him low in the guts. Feces will poison his blood and kill him over the course of a few days.
Frank knows now that whatever happens to his family's bones, they're in a place where it can't hurt them. Everything is the right way round and the world is true.
Observations: This arc really did two things: It explored Frank's humanity and it thoroughly deconstructed the idea of the psycho mobster.
In the last arc we saw a spark of Frank's soul through his interactions with Galina. Here we saw that nerve pounded on. Nicky attacked the one shred of humanity Frank has and paid dearly for it. It turned Frank into an even more inhuman killing machine than we have seen thusfar. Last arc he was an action hero, a clever mercenary who parachuted out of a nuclear missile. In this arc he is a machine of death, systematically killing dozens of people without breaking a sweat. While Galina brought out the best in Frank Nicky brought out the worst. Frank still has a potential for love, as shown here by his interactions with O'Brien, and he is still a human despite his actions. But he also has the potential to become a true monster with no remorse and no moral compass. Killing for the sake of killing. But this fugue state is also self-destructive. Frank needs to be human to survive, he can't run on autopilot without running into trouble.
O'Brien serves as a mouthpiece for Ennis in analyzing this aspect. Shes not as far gone as Frank so shes able to look at their world through the eyes of a civilian and be horrified by it. The scariest part is how Frank remarks that the world is backwards, yet when he kills Cavella the world is right-side round. The world is a sick place and in Frank's eyes he makes it sane. He lacks the self-awareness that O'Brien has.
Cavella gets busted down back in this arc. While in the first arc he had some pull based on him being crazy here it's shown to be ultimately ineffective. Being a maniac is only going for intimidating other people into dying for you. When faced against Frank or even Rawlins he folds easily. And when he's working within a successful crime operation he's a loose cannon that causes serious issues due to his insanity. By the end of it his minions turn away from him. Mob bosses get their power from their minions, so when those minions turn on him what can he do? And in the end for all of his tough guy talk he goes out like a little girl, forced to face his horrible past and finding it too horrible to stand.
Overall the issue was a good cap to the story. Anti-climactic due to the villain's self-destruction but a good ending to a great arc.
Issue rating: B Arc rating: B+
Wounds gained this issue: - Stabbed in the left shoulder - Bashed over the head with a nightstand - Eyes clawed at
Past issues: - Seven gunshot wounds across his body (Born #4) - Seven stun rounds to the body, hand and face (The Punisher #2) - A bullet fired at point blank range grazing his forehead (The Punisher #5) - Right arm grazed by a shotgun (The Punisher #5) - Hit in the chest and possibly other parts of his body by a shotgun through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Fell through the roof of a warehouse (The Punisher #6) - Shot in a left rib by a shotgun at point blank range. (The Punisher #6) - Lung grabbed and squeezed through the wound in his side. (The Punisher #6) - Punched in the face. (The Punisher #6) - Slashed on the right forearm, right thigh and left side of the head (The Punisher #6) - Right hand stabbed by shard of glass (The Punisher #6) - Stabbed in the back at least once (The Punisher #6) - Caught in an explosion resulting in a nosebleed and bleeding from the ears. (The Punisher #7) - Upper left arm impaled by shard of glass. (The Punisher #7) - Grenade shrapnel to the right arm (The Punisher #12) - Probable concussion (from grenade) (The Punisher #12) - Smashed through a bar, delivering blunt force trauma (The Punisher #14) - Right eye socket broken (The Punisher #16) - Head repeatedly smashed with an AK47. (The Punisher #16) - Gunshot to the left arm (The Punisher #22) - Shotgun to the chest, mitigated by bulletproof vest. (The Punisher #23)
Next: The Punisher takes his ultimate revenge in the second one-shot of the series.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 27, 2014 10:22:43 GMT -5
It's about damn time.
The Punisher MAX is fairly unique for a Marvel comic in that it takes place in (roughly) real time. The character has been active for decades and is a man in his 50s. But what about the specifics of the timeline? How does time flow between the story arcs? So far I've based the timeline purely on environmental cues in the artwork and the six issue/month gap between arcs. It works out to something like this:
In The Beginning - Spring/Summer 2004 Kitchen Irish - Fall/Winter 2004/2005 Mother Russia - Spring/Summer 2005 Up Is Down and Black Is White - Fall/Winter 2005/2006
But throughout the stories so far there have been more exact hints to the timeline.
In #13 it's mentioned that ITB happened "early last year."
In #19 it's established that ITB, KI and MR all took place "last year"
In #23 it's mentioned that MR took place "the end of last year" and that ITB took place 18 months ago.
Clearly there are some things that just aren't compatible.
First of all, lets establish a time where INB took place. It's probably 2004, the year the series started, in keeping with the real time element. As for the month, thats more complicated. In #13 it was said to be early in the year. Based on the artwork it was more like the Spring, which is backed up by the 18 months figure and the winter weather of UIDBIS. New York can experience snowfall from November to March so ITB could take place between May and September, the middle of the year.
The difficulty is in judging what statements are valid. In MR it's said that ITB took place early last year. Frank's monologue in #19 makes ITB happening in the beginning of the year more likely but the same monologue puts Mother Russia in the same year, which doesn't jive with what was said in Mother Russia.
So we have two major ossibilities:
ITB: Early 2004 KI: Fall 2004 MR: Winter 2004 UIDBIW: Early 2005
Which disregards the "last year" reference in #13 and the 18 months figure in #23 in favor of the compressed timeline offered in #19. Backed up by the numerous "last year" references in #23.
ITB: July to September 2004 KI: Fall 2004/Winter 2005 (based on the bare trees in the art) MR: End of 2005 UIDBIW: January 2006 to March 2006
Which disregards the "early" reference in #13 and the compressed timeline from #19 in favor of the 18 months figure from #23, as well as the Mother Russia timeframe from the same issue.
Neither timeline fits perfectly.
Additional insight is available in the form of the actual release dates for the series, which first hit the shelves in January 200:
ITB: January to May 2004 KI: June to October 2004 MR: November 2004 to March 2005 UIDBIW: April to August 2005
Some of it fits. The first three arcs fall right into the timeline given by Frank in #19, which makes me think Ennis just looked at the first year's worth of comics and set that as the timeline. The "last year" comment in #13 makes even less sense though since not even a year had passed in real time but Mother Russia at least started at the end of the year.
Nowhere near as cut and dry as simple "real time."
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 28, 2014 2:54:49 GMT -5
The Cell (July 2005)
Penciler: Lewis Larosa Inker: Scott Koblish Colorist: Raul Travino
Deep inside Rikers prison there is a cell. The occupants are lifers but they have no reason to leave. It's full of drugs, weapons and high class food.
George Apostolo was the consiglieri to three generations of the Drago family. Due to his infidelities his wife sold him out.
Enzo Gaucci is a soldier. He was busted because he chose to kill seven Russians with a baseball bat instead of shooting them and making a quick escape, just because he felt it was his professional obligation.
Paulie and Philly Germaine are twin bodyguards to the Dragos. They're psychos with rap sheets comparable to war criminals.
Francesco Drago, Capo Di Tutti Capi. He fled the country in 1982 but returned to visit his cancer-ridden Grandson and got himself busted thanks to his son, who was looking at life without parole.
Frank turned himself after Drago's last appeal in October. The press expected the trial of the century and the cop assigned to Frank was made out ot be a hero. Frank waived the right to an attorney, confessed to everything and turned that cop into his secretary. Six months later he's in Rikers listening to the inmates promise payback from their cells.
Leonard, the chief guard, fills him in. He points out a man named Squeaky Pete. He's called that because he doesn't use personal lubricant during anal sex, which is how he killed his wife. He is the most dangerous man in the prison and the one who is going to kill Frank. Frank grabs a guard's baton, smashes the guard in the face, then beats Squeaky Pete to death. He tells them to send the next most dangerous man.
Leonard reports the incident to the Dragos. Frank recieved a sound thrashing and was thrown in isolation. The Dragos want the guards to finish him off but they can't do that, the scandal would be huge. The Dragos resolve to kill him themselves to avenge their people.
Leonard is at Frank's cell, taunting him about throwing away his breakfast. A fist comes out of the cell and knocks Leonard out cold. Frank grabs him and carefully removes his nametag. Before he turned himself in he investigated the prison. He just got out after 20 years and knew all of the dirty secrets. He knew about Leonard.
That night Frank is back in gen pop, which tells him that a hit has been called. He killed his cellmate and switched bunks with him. When the Germaine brothers show up they tell him to scram. Frank's head goes light as he passes them, they don't even bother to look at him and the urge to kill them is overwelming.
The prison is locked down at night but some cells are left open. Frank goes to one of those cells. A man name Ty Curtis is lying in a heroin daze. Ty pulled a driveway next to a kindergarten. The guy in the bottom bunk is silently killed. Frank gives Ty an extra dose and gets to work.
In the morning Ty is found dead with a swastika carved into his face and Leonard's nametag in his hand. Leonard has no alibi: At that time he was performing sex acts for the Aryan nation.
Leonard figures it out. He beats Frank and throws him back in solitary but the job is done. Frank is practically forgotten while a war between the guards and the Nazis brews. Leonard reports to the Dragos and they want Frank out of solitary. If the place riots so be it. It'll provide good cover for the hit.
Leonard taunts Frank about whats going to happen. The people is going to go nuclear and Franks at ground zero. Frank tells him that he and his Nazi lover could have stopped it. Leonard reaches into to cell and Frank breaks his arm. He tells Leonard to open the door. He knocks him out and takes his uniform. A guard comes along to warn Leonard about the riot. Frank beats him and takes his AR-15.
Out in gen pop the place has gone nuts. All old scores are settled and all savage appetites are whetted. Frank blows a psycho's head off and tells some prisoners where Leonard is. He heads for the Dragos.
The Dragos are debating whether to stay or go. Most are content to stay where they are but one wants to leave. The only person who would kill them in their cell is Castle and they'd be trapped like rats in the cell. But if he wanted to kill them why wait until now? He wanted a distraction so he could take their time with them. They agree to leave.
In the corridor they see a prisoner kneeling. He tells them to turn back. A shot comes from the dark and blows his head off. Three more times the Dragos try to escape. They try to figure out why Castle is so pissed at them. Maybe it was just one of them that screwed Castle over. They should confess their worst sins and the worst man should stay behind to let the others escape.
Enzo Gauzi admits that one time he took a side job. He had to kill a man's newborn baby to break his spirit. He showed up at the hospital early and ended up killing the mother, the baby and the staff.
The twins talk about the time they slashed a hooker to death for being a motor mouth.
Drago puts an end to the confession session. This is all irrelevant, Castle is after something personal. A vendetta.
Frank is standing in the doorway. He closes the door and shoots their legs out. He tells Don Drago about his brother who disappeared in Florida. The brother was stupid and was sent there to stay out of trouble. But he had a secret that he thought would save him when he ran into Frank.
Apostolo the consiglieri advised sending brother Tommy down south. Apostolo didn't much like Don Drago. Too smart, too independent. Even made decisions against him. Apostolo thought Tommy would make a better Don, more impressionable. Easier to control. He set the time and place. Enzo Gaucci was to be the shooter.
The Don remembers now. He remembers being shot at in Central Park... They all realize what this means. Frank tells them he's going to start the killing.
Gaucci got there early to find the right spot to set up. But he was there too early. The sun was behind the Don. Gaucci opened fire with his Thompson and Castle thought about hoe strange it was to be shot with a Thompson in 1976. His daughter was hit in the stomach. She saw her guts come out and she screamed. Frank stabs Gaucci in the guts. His wife was hit in the heart and Frank stabs him in the heart. The twins are next. They returned fire. They hit Frank Jr in the head. When Frank held him his brains came out in his hands. He beats the twins to death with a baton.
Don Drago has stolen some vengeance for himself. He strangles Apostolo before Frank can get to him. The exertion gives him a heart attack. As Drago dies Frank tells him that because of him and Apostolo his people will continue to die. The war will go on. Escaping prison is no big deal, he'll be out soon.
Frank turns the radio off. The guards are coming. He wants to enjoy the minute of silence. He sits in the Don's chair and waits.
Observations: Wow. Theres not a whole lot to say. Frank Castle busts in on Goodfellas and kills everyone while they're gutting garlic with razors. This story really shows the great tactical mind Frank posesses. He could have stolen weapons and gone in guns blazing but instead he used just a bit of intel to manufacture a prison riot. The story is packed with great Frank moments, from the beating of Squeaky Pete to the final torture and execution of the Drago crew. You get the idea that Frank is really satisfied by his work here, which isn't something that happens much. More than any other of the Ennis stories this one reads like a 70s revenge story.
Lewis Larosa is back one last time. His art is as gritty and mean as it was in "In The Beginning" and it's a great fit for this nasty prison story.
Timeline wise this takes place before "In The Beginning." No way of knowing how far before but in that arc he mentioned the killers of his family had been dead for years.
Next: The Punisher battles some of the darkest dregs of humanity he has ever faced.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Dec 28, 2014 3:32:25 GMT -5
The Punisher #25 (November 2005)
"The Slavers, Part 1" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Koblish Colorist: Dan Brown
Summary: A rainy night in Brooklin. A woman fires a pistol at Antony Pavla and his thugs, who take cover behind a limosine. At that moment Frank was on the roof watching through a scope about to splatter their brains. He was after Pavla for drugs and stumbled onto this mess. The woman runs off to the alley next to Frank's building, thugs in pursuit. Frank puts a bullet in Pavla's head and checks out the alley.
In a squad car Marcie is apologizing to Russ about laughing at a black people joke. Russ, who is both black and gay, says he heard the F-word rather than the N-word. He tells her that he was seeing a guy but when the guy asked what it was like to ride around with a breeder all day he threatening to beat his head in because shes his partner. They get the call about the disturbance in Brooklyn and head on over.
In the alley the woman is cornered. Frank doesn't care about her, he just wanted to clear away the thugs before they found someone else to work for. He gets down to the alley and opens fire with his pistol. One lives and is saying the Lord's prayer in a foreign language. Frank waits until he gets to the line about forgiveness and shoots him in the head.
One look at the girl tells Frank that shes no hitman. His interest in her is gone. She begs for help, he tells her the cops are coming. She says the cops will send her back. He figures shes an illegal and tells her too bad. She says she knows he's the Punisher and that they killed her baby. Not these men, but others like them.
Marcie and Russ interupt the scene. They see who they're dealing with and freak. Frank gives them a light dusting, disarms them and leaves with the girl.
In an office a man named Cristu is talking to a woman named Vera about what happened. Vera wonders why the Punisher hit Pavla, since he usually a targets drug people. Cristu points out that as far as the Punisher knew Pavla was drug people. Cristu wants to avoid talking to his father but if the Punisher starts sniffing around it could mean the end of their business. And the knowledge that the Punisher took a screaming girl from the crime scene has Cristu very concerned. He puts in a call to the police department.
Someone named Westin picks up. He hears they want the Punisher taken care off. Westin doesn't like it. He knows what the Punisher did to Nicky Cavella. But he's got to do something.
At his safehouse Frank has the girl resting on his cot. Shes having night errors. Normally he wouldn't care so much for a victim but what she said about the baby bugged him. He can tell shes been through some bad times and he can relate. He holds her hand as she sleeps.
Westin pays a visit to Captain Price. He asks Price about whats being done about the Punisher. After all, he just roughed up two of his cops. Price says he just locked their guns in their car and knocked them down and most days he is completely supportive of the Punisher. Westin tells him that taking down the Punisher would be amazing for his career. He advises Price to hold a press conference and announce an anti-Punisher initiative. The press will love it and if they bust the Punisher Price will be a hero. Price is in.
At the safehouse the woman has woken. Her name is Viorica. Frank has some questions from her. When he hears the answers he knows a lot of men will have to die.
Observations: Already the issues to be explored this arc are taking shape. Last arc we saw a bit of what the law thinks of the Punisher. Here we get a better look at that relationship. He doesn't hurt cops, just neutralizes them until he can escape. And at least one Captain admits to being a fan of his. It's a delicate relationship. Frank doesn't push the cops too far, the cops don't push him too far. Now the little worm Westin is upsetting that balance. We'll see how that goes.
The other idea being explored is heroism. This issue makes it clear that Frank is not a hero. The victim doesn't really matter much to him and any good that might come from his actions is incidental. He's not interested in killing the bad guys so that nobody else has to go through what he went through, he kills the bad guys because he wants them dead. If Batman stops the bad guy but fails to save the victim it haunts him. If Frank saves them or doesn't save them it doesn't matter, the bad guys does.
He obviously values innocent life enough to not kill it but he is completely uninterested in Viorica's well being until she mentions her murdered baby. And even then, does he want to specifically avenge the baby or is he more interested in killing the people who did it? He was deadset on rescuing Galina from the bunker so theres obviously some kernel of nobility left in him but based on what we see in this issue he is practically an accidental hero, going about his own business and inadvertently saving people along the way.
Footnote: This story is unique because it's told completely in the past tense. Frank mentions that it happened a year ago. Westin also mentions that Nicky Cavella's remains were found two weeks prior and that birds had eaten his eyes, meaning his corpse was still fresh enough for that damage to be noticeable. It probably hasn't been more than a couple months since the last arc, which would place this story in the spring of 2005 or 2006.
Post by crazyoldhermit on Jan 5, 2015 19:34:20 GMT -5
The Punisher #26 (December 2005)
"The Slavers, Part 2" Penciler: Leandro Fernandez Inker: Scott Koblish Colorist: Dan Brown
Summary: Viorica tells her story. When she was fifteen she was abducted and taken to an apartment where she was gang raped for 24 hours. Whenever she resisted they beat her bloody. After that she went to work. She had a quota of 20 men per night but even when she meets it the men beat her and raping for lying.
After some time Viorica managed to escape and ran home. Her father was ashamed of her and disowned her. At this point she found out shes pregnant. Frank asks her if she wants to take a break but she refuses. She said the men found her and beat her senseless. The Old Man comes from America to Moldova to look at girls to bring back. Viorica wa brought to him. He put his fingers inside of her. At this point she starts to break down and Frank tells her to take a break. Shes no use to him when shes crying. To himself he says the Old Man sounds like a pip.
In some abandoned industrial building the Old Man is taunting a black gang leader who he has tied to a chair. He calls him racist names and mocks him for thinking he knows anything of war. The Old Man's people fought in Nazis, Commies and other wars. He gouges the man's eyes out and breaks his neck. His son Cristu watches with disapproval. He says they should let their other captives go to send a message. The Old Man grabs an SMG and shoots them all, saying that is the better message. Outside, Cristu calls Vera. He complains that the Old Man's madness is bound to destroy everything they worked for and that he wants to kill him.
Viorica tells Frank about the duo. Cristu is cruel but he only cares about business. The Old Man, however, is a sadist who enjoys what he does. He brings Viorica to New York. Before she goes back to work she has her baby, Anna. The baby is held hostage so she doesn't run away. She gets to visit Anna once a week if she works hard. The girls are kept in a house in Brooklyn. Clients and girls are transported there in a car with blacked out windows. She thanks Frank for killing Pavla, who ran a club that arranged the clientele. The third slaver is Vera. She is focused on the business, like Cristu, but she psychologically tortures the girls.
One girl managed to escape. She gets a message back to the girls: Theres a social worker who can help. When Viorica visits Anna she has sex with a guard to bribe him into giving them alone time. She climbs out the window and goes to the social worker. The social worker is an idiot. She rents a hotel room for Viorica and Anna and says shes building a case to present to the police. She keeps all of her information on her computer. The girl who previously escaped is recaptured and interrogated. Vera hacks the social worker's computer and gets the information she needs. Viorica and the social worker leave Anna with the social worker's boyfriend while they go to buy new clothes. When they come back the boyfriend is beaten and Anna is gone. Yesterday they get an email with an attachment: A photograph of the murdered baby. Frank gets an absolutely psycho look on his face while Viorica explains why she made a run at Pavlov. She says she didn't know what she was doing, she just went crazy. Frank understands. Viorica says that as a child she dreamed of coming to America but it's turned out to be a nightmare.
Meanwhile, Marcie and Russ are being ordered into a casts, neck braces and crutches on the orders of Captain Price. They were seriously assaulted and they need to look it. They're disgusted and humiliated by the idea but have to go along with it.
At the press conference Price explains the situation: The Punisher disarmed and assaulted the officers, subjecting them to a sustained and brutal beating and it was only thanks to their training that they survived (Marcie mutters that as long as he's making the whole thing up he could at least say Frank got the drop on them so they down sound like two morons). This attack is evidence of how dangerous the Punisher is and from here on he will be hunted.
Pavla's club is a bloodbath. After stashing Viorica at a motel Frank went to the club looking for Pavla's replacement. He killed all of the mooks and tortured the substitute until he gave up the house's location. Infiltration would be tricky. He couldn't go in guns blazing, too much collatoral damage. And he couldn't go in under cover, he looks like too much trouble. When he checks the place out in person he rules out a covert entry, security is too tight. He watches as two customers go in. A half hour later they're out. One complains about the unenthusiastic service. As they get in the van he wonders why she even does it if she doesn't like it, although on second thought he can figure it out. Thanks to the dark window between the front and back seats they can't see that their former driver is now a corpse in the passenger seat. And thanks to the blacked out windows they don't notice that instead of being taken back to the club they're in the shadow of a small bridge.
Frank holds them at gunpoint. They plead innocence but Frank asks them what it's called to have sex with a girl who doesn't want it. He tells them that they're going back to the house. On the way they will tell him the layout of the house. They'll tell the door man that they came back for their wallet. Then the door man dies quietly and Frank goes in. At that moment Frank is hit with a big pile of bad luck. A cop was passing over the bridge and saw Frank holding the guys at gunpoint and has now come in to investigate. Frank leaps down onto the train tracks. That afternoon he heard the cops declare open season, someone is working an angle. The cop pursues but trips and hits his head on the tracks. Frank tells him "Looks like it's time for the sustained and b rutail beating. Unless maybe someone's full of ****."
The entire plan is screwed. Cristu's crew heard about what happened and cleared out of the house within an hour. In a couple weeks they'd be back in business. Frank has only one lead left...
Observations: The full brutality of the arc's villains is revealed by way of Viorica's own heartbreaking recollection of her personal experience. Kidnapped at 15, raped and beaten, forced into prostitution, disowned by her family, impregnated, shipped to America and one glimmer of hope that burns her entire world down. The image of her dead baby is the most awful thing I have ever seen in a Marvel comic. The last three arcs dealt with typical crime and action movie bad guys: Mobsters, Russians and the darker sides of the US Military. But there is nothing typical about these Slavers. They are unbelievably monstrous and unflamboyant and there is no enjoyment in seeing them do anything. You don't get the black humor of Pittsy breaking a pool cue over a waitress's butt and you don't get the laugh you get when you see O'Brien calling Teresa "Frankenc**t." They are pure evil and they are the exact sort of thing The Punisher was designed for: Characters where even the most liberal and pacifistic people would hesitate to condemn their deaths.
Speaking of The Punisher, a few more facets of his character are illuminated. When Viorica is telling her story he asks her if she wants to take a break. Is it compassion? No. When she eventually breaks down crying he tells her to take a break, because if shes hysterical she's no use to him. He doesn't care about her own emotions, he only cares about how she can help him. When she tells him about the baby it clearly affects him but he is not out to avenge a baby, he wants to destroy the people who kill babies. The victim continues to be meaningless to him and in a world of sworn vendettas and passionate revenge it's downright bizarre to see someone rescue a slave and plot to kill her slavers without having a shred of emotional involvement. This is how black Frank Castle's soul is. When people say "The Punisher bores me because he's a one note character" they have a point, in many cases. But Ennis has made that one-dimensionality an actual part of his plot. Frank is a character who has transformed himself into this unfeeling killing machine. But as the last arc shows, he still has one live nerve remaining. Will he be able to reach it again?