I Have Issues (17)

The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe
(W) Garth Ennis (A) Doug Braithwaite, 1995

This little story was my first introduction to Garth Ennis
and his brand of outlaw comic writing. You would think that the guy would be a
no nonsense hard ass, but after meeting him at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con
I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth as the man is a
completely polite gentleman.  There have
been others to successfully tackle the Punisher but no one gets the fully
rounded character the Punisher is better than Garth Ennis.  Though I really enjoyed the MAX Punisher series,
I don’t think I am ever more interested in the Punisher then when he interacts
with the other characters of the Marvel Universe. Much like Batman who is cool
in comparison to the super powered DC heroes, the Punisher definitely speaks to
the human side and portrays someone doing whatever he can to get himself on
even ground to the laser blasting brick wall destroying members of the hero
community. The Punisher is the Charles Bronson/Clint Eastwood of the Marvel
universe. The only downside of the character is for him to interact with the
good ole 616 universe, he has to be a neutered version of himself and not
actually kill anyone that matters. Not so in this story which is a from the
short lived Alterniverse label, where the Punisher is cut loose on the Marvel
universe in a very realistic way!
We start off in Hell’s Kitchen, years ago where little Matt
Murdoch (Daredevil) is getting beat up by several other kids. Grabbing the lead
bully, Frank Castle pulls him back and lays a big punch on him. The bullies all
run for it and Matt states that his father always told him not to fight. Frank tells
Matt that if he doesn’t stand up to bullies they will never leave him alone.

“You gotta get your own back.”
Now, in New York City, Central Park the Avengers and the
X-Men are teamed up to fight the combined forces of the Brood and Skrulls.
Frank Castle is speeding to the park because his wife and kids were going to
the park that day. 
Frank arrives on the
scene as the heroes have defeated the aliens and Daredevil is admonishing them
for not watching out for the innocents in the park. Captain America mentions
that the attack came upon so suddenly that they did not have time to clear the
area. As Frank runs up on the heroes he finds his family was killed in the
crossfire. The heroes are all silent as they do not know what to say. Cyclops
steps up to Frank and says he’s sorry. Frank turns on Scott Summers and shoots
him right in the face blowing his brains out.
Sweeping his gun he kills Hawkeye
and Shadowcat. (Later it’s mentioned
that he killed Jubilee. It’s very possible the creators got the two young
characters confused.) 
Wolverine attacks Frank, slicing into him and taking
him down. Before Logan can go further, Colossus holds him back, stopping him
from finishing the job.
Later Castle is in custody and meets his Lawyer, Matt
Murdoch. Matt mentions that even though the crime he committed is horrible he
may be able to get a reduced sentence, taking into account his exemplary
military record and the situation of his bereavement.
In the courtroom, the Judge gives Frank a life sentence for
his crimes despite Matt’s best efforts. The slaughter that Castle inflicted on
the heroes is just too much to overcome any defense.
The truck taking Castle to prison is detoured and the
vigilante is let out by an old man with a mangled face, one arm and walking
with a cane. The man introduces himself as Kesselring and takes Franks
handcuffs off and invites him up to his mansion. As the mangled old man walks
Castle through the halls of his compound he tells the vigilante that he has
paid substantial amount of money to have the guards bring him to his home.
Kesselring explains that he used to enjoy having money but that it all changed
when Dr. Doom through the Human Torch into his car during a fight. Leading him
into a meeting room, Castle finds a group of several others, all with severe
disfigurements. Kesselring explains what happened to them.  One had a building thrown at him by the
Thing; another was attacked by Wolverine when Wolverine mistook who he was. A
woman was run over by the Ghost Rider while another man was crippled by
Magneto.  Kesselring explains that they
were all affected by super beings one way or another and no one cares because
everyone meant well and the good supposedly outweighed the bad. (When I first read this comic it was like
an epiphany of why had no one thought of this before?)
Kesselring offers to
fund Frank to punish them all! He wants the entire super population dead, all
the heroes and all the villains, everyone who ever dared to act above the law!
Frank agrees and it’s off to the races from here.
Down in the sewers Spider-Man and Venom are fighting each
other when in the shadows behind them you can make out a white skull symbol.
Parker’s spidey sense goes crazy but he can’t react as he is still trying to
combat Venom. Next barbed Tasers lash out and shock both combatants putting
them down. 
Before Venom can recover The Punisher dispatches him with a full
clip from his machine gun. As Parker questions why he’s doing this, Frank walks
over and pops one off in Parkers face. Frank answers to the now dead
Spider-Man, “cause somebody had to be first.”
Back in the battle Van, Frank asks his new partner Micro how
he got mixed up in the job. Micro explains he was working combat systems in the
Air Force when Doc Ock broke into the base and tore his legs off. Now here he
is working the technical side for Frank’s war on the Super people.
Next we have the Hulk Rampaging and destroying everything as
per usual. Frank shoots the monster with a tracking device.  Hours later the Punisher using his GPS to
follow the signal and finds Bruce Banner asleep in an alley and just as he is
waking up, Castle caps him.
Two weeks later, Micro has disabled all of the Kingpins
security systems and Frank is cutting a swath through the criminals guards in
his Skyscraper. 
Frank makes his way into the Kingpins penthouse where he is
struck with a massive right hook. Destroying the Punisher’s rifles Kingpin explains
that he was in full support of Frank Castle’s war on the super community and
that he was even designing weapons to assist his fight. The Punisher pulls out
two handguns and just fires everything at Wilson Fisk as the giant criminal
lurches forward. The Kingpin falls dead on top of Castle and then the police
come in take the vigilante back into custody. Another trial and Castle is again
sent to prison and again let out by Kesselring. The mangled man tells Frank
that it is getting harder to keep him out of jail and the progress he has made
has not been enough. Frank explains that he has Kingpins advanced weaponry now
and he has a plan to take out more of them at once.
Micro is flying Frank to Latveria and has masked their
presence to make them appear to be the Fantastic Four in the fantasticar.
Knowing that Doom can never resist playing with the FF, he is sure they will get
really close with the ruse. 
The Punisher parachutes into the Castle and a short
time later he is shown on the ground with Doom overhead. After a short beating
where the Doctor continues to let Frank know how insignificant he is, Castle
retaliates with a magnetic mine that destroys his armored weapons. The mine
also sends a feedback that destroys all of the Doombots in the castle. The mine doesn’t finish Doom off so the Punisher simply grabs a sledgehammer off the wall and
starts pounding away at the metallic helmet of the Latverian despot until he
hears a SQUITCH!
Micro and Punisher tour Doctor Doom’s castle and through all
the weaponry they find the one thing Frank was really looking for… a nuke!
Frank explains that guns aren’t going to be enough to really make a big dent.
” It’s time to get sneaky.”
On the moon it’s the final mutant battle as Magneto,
Apocalypse, and Mister Sinister have joined all the evil mutants together to
battle the X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force. 
Each side assumes the other side was
the one to start the conflict but before either can react, the nuclear bomb
goes off and takes all the mutants out in one fell swoop! All except one.
Wolverine is drinking himself into depression as he can’t
believe all his teammates died on the moon while he was following a wild goose
chase in Japan. He can’t believe everything has gone so wrong in two years. 
Avengers fried in a transporter that was tampered with, someone flooded the
Vault and killed all the villains being held inside.  He points out that Captain America the only
surviving Avenger is investigating but he hasn’t made progress and now they
have found Mister Fantastic dead in a dumpster. The Punisher approaches Logan and
explains that he is the one who sent him to Japan while he killed all his
friends, because he had something special for him. Wolverine goes into
berserker rage but Frank slices into the mutant’s throat with a knife. For a
second Logan can’t breathe, but his neck heals and he charges the Punisher who
uses his momentum to throw the mutant through a fence. Wolverine calls Frank a
psycho for killing all of his friends. Logan slices into Frank’s hand, and
Frank grabs Wolvies arm and stabs him with his own claws and he tells him that
they killed his family and they said sorry,
“but sorry doesn’t cut it!”
then throws Wolverine into a power generator that fries him from his adamantium
Three months later and mid-battle, The Punisher unloads his machine gun to which
Captain America is blocking every bullet. As Steve Rogers moves in he knocks
the Punisher to the ground and tells Frank that he knows that all of his
weapons are out of bullets and that he needs to give up.  Cap asks Frank what happened to him. He knows
he was once a good soldier and he doesn’t understand how he could have gone
wrong.  Frank mentions Vietnam to which
Steve knows nothing about and he still doesn’t get it. Frank pulls out a gun
that he stashed at the scene, one that the brilliant strategist and leader of
the Avengers did not know was there and shoots Rogers in the head when he doesn’t see it coming.
Back in Kesselring’s compound he and the others are toasting
his success. Castle explains that nothing he does is to be cheered about; it
just needs to be done. Frank tells them that only Daredevil remains and once
that’s done he is done. Kesselring takes exception to this and tells Frank that
he belongs to them and that even after Daredevil is dead, more superheroes will
be born and he needs to be ready to kill them to. Frank ignores the man and
when Kesselring pulls a gun on him, Frank turns and shoots him down. Castle then tells all
the others to never contact him again because if one does he will find and kill
them all!
In the battle van Frank tells Micro that after Daredevil he
should get really far away and find something else to do with his brain.
Scoping out the scene of Hell’s Kitchen, Punisher doesn’t see Daredevil behind
him. Matt tells Frank that this is where it all began. Frank doesn’t know what
he means and tries to get him with an Uzi. Murdoch deftly leaps above the blast
and comes in with a flurry attacks, knocking Frank off the roof.  Frank lands on a car and Daredevil leaps down
after him. Castle charges and Matt knees him in the jaw knocking him down again
as he demands Frank give it up. Matt explains that good and bad he murdered
everyone and still his family isn’t coming back. Frank says they were all
arrogant and wanting to change the world their own way with the attitude that
it was too bad if anyone wanted anything different. Even after all the murder,
Matt explains to Frank that he knows he can’t be all that bad, he knows a good
man is somewhere in there.  He begs him
one more time to let it end and offers his hand to help him up. “Like Hell!”
the Punisher screams as he pulls Matt down and stabs him in the heart.
Daredevil pulls off his mask and Frank is shocked to see his childhood friend
and lawyer as his latest victim. Matt explains that, “there is always someone
behind the mask, but not anymore because he killed them all. 
Frank looks down
at his Skull shirt and says to himself, “just one more.” Frank then points the gun
at himself and pulls the trigger.
This comic was released in 1995 to almost no interest but was then re-released in 1999 after Garth Ennis started his Punisher reboot. 
A reboot that revived the character from the over saturated mess it had become in the 90’s. 
Yeah that happened.
No matter what your opinion on heroes killing villains this comic serves a great story that could never exist in the regular Marvel Universe but does the great character of the Punisher justice.
By. J. Ryan Buck([email protected])
Previous installments here http://lostscribe0.blogspot.com/