Issue(s): Punisher #11
It's also interesting to me to see Mike Baron using this as a motivator for the Punisher. Some of the commentary today regarding the immigrant conditions can get pretty ugly (of the "Well, good, that's what they get for coming here illegally" variety). Baron is a conservative, although so far i see very little in his work on Punisher that's pushing any kind of agenda. He did have the Punisher deride Daredevil's "self-defeating liberalism" last issue and you can argue (as Baron did in the intro to the first Punisher mini-series) that the whole concept of the Punisher is a conservative fantasy, but it's worth noting that the Punisher's targets in this series have including corrupt South Vietnamese generals, white supremacists, and crooked Wall Street execs, hardly the top bogeymen for the right. Ann Nocenti has been much more explicitly addressing liberal concerns on Daredevil, by contrast. Although to really go off on a tangent, it's been more in Daredevil than the Punisher where you see these hordes of rapists and killers roaming the streets, and it's those kinds of media portrayals the fueled the Law & Order type movements.
But i think at one point i was actually talking about this issue, and if i can remember that far back, my point was that Mike Baron has the Punisher care enough about the plight of illegal immigrants to go to Mexico to help, which is surprising for (my 2014 perception of) a conservative. To be clear, not trying to paint all conservatives or anti-immigration people with the comments of the worst people on random web pages. Just surprised to see a conservative pick this as a topic. And i think it helps illustrate Mike Baron's relative diversity of topics on what most people think of as a book where the Punisher kills inner city drug dealers or mafiosos every issue. And also that if Baron is pushing any specific agenda in this book, i'm not seeing it.
Of course "help" from the Punisher doesn't mean a nuanced understanding of countries' relative economic states, workers rights, US employers not wanting to pay a legal working wage to US workers, or anything like that. He just wants to shoot someone. And his target is the people that exploit the immigrants' desire to get into the US. Which, fair enough.
He comes across a group trying to rape an immigrant in return for them supposedly looking out for her younger siblings and "as training for your new life in America". He first thinks she reminds him of his dead wife, Maria...
...but later thinks that "she doesn't look a thing like Maria". The two guys that he kills are part of a larger group, and the Punisher is temporarily blinded in the subsequent shootout.
Hey, is "ex-wife" the right word to use for your dead spouse?
Both the Punisher and the young woman are shot and left for dead, but the Punisher wakes up on a butte where a "brujo" named Pepe lives. Pepe gives the Punisher some peyote.
Unfortunately the smugglers come back while the Punisher is still high. Pepe has an old canon to fight them off with.
There's supposed to only be one way up the mountain, but the Punisher has a vision of his wife ("wife" now, not ex-wife) telling him about a sniper, and the Punisher turns the canon in that direction and fires.
And he turns out to be right.
But the Punisher and his two friends are still outgunned...
...and Pepe is shot dead and one of the smugglers gets a drop on Frank. He's saved by the young woman, whose name turns out to be Maria.
Unusual in that it takes the Punisher out of his usual element and gets him drugged up, but still a "typical" issue of Baron's Punisher with nice art by Whilce Portacio.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: In Punisher annual #1, the Punisher will see the super-science technology of the High Evolutionary's Eliminators and wonder if he's still in the desert with Pepe (i.e. high), so this issue has to take place prior to that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same and it's depressingly true. Just crack open any history book or check the "On this day..." section of Wikipedia.
I was becoming more interested in politics around this time and yet, I was surprised to learn that Baron was a conservative years later. I agree that he never displayed an agenda during his run. In fact, I thought it was brilliant how he kept covering different topics from insider trading to human smuggling without missing a beat.
This is a great offbeat issue. The peyote sequence is awesome, as is Pepe himself. He goes from wise old man to losing his sh!t when he can't get Frank to snap back. Too bad he bought it in the end.
This run needs to be collected in some form that goes beyond the Essential series.
Posted by: Clutch | July 5, 2014 8:37 AM
Matt Fraction similarly had Castle sympathizing with undocumented migrants in his post-Civil War 'Punisher War Journal' run. I liked the story but thought it might have been out of character... forgot that he'd acted on such sentiment before!
Baron, IIRC, liked to play up the "instability" of his protagonists.
Posted by: Cullen | July 5, 2014 12:33 PM
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