Punisher: Assassin's Guild
Issue(s): Punisher: Assassin's Guild
This graphic novel features a Japanese assassins guild that run their business out of a sushi restaurant.
Meanwhile, a crazy guy named Kevin Reynolds gets into an innocent car accident, but freaks out because his car is full of drugs and he has no drivers license.
He later hunts down the woman that hit him...
...and takes her sister hostage. But the Punisher kills him.
It turns out that Reynolds' crimes were being covered up by a lawyer named Robert Abbey. So Punisher starts looking into the lawyer. Meanwhile, the father of the dead woman hires the assassin's guild to kill the lawyer. One of the assassins, Reiko, was a friend of the family, so she takes the job for a low fee. Punisher sees Reiko trailing Abbey and heads to the sushi restaurant. The assassins recognize the Punisher. And that's when things get a little weird. The Punisher is maintaining a fake ID as James Maxwell, and in that ID he hits on Reiko...
...and eventually gets her into bed.
The weird relationship facade continues while each hunt Robert Abbey separately. The Punisher gets to Abbey and gets the name of his boss, Richard Fletcher, but then Reiko's little cousin Masumi kills Abbey.
And with that the Punisher confronts Reiko.
A compare and contrast is done between the Punisher and the assassin's guild. They are in similar lines of work, although the Punisher doesn't sell out his services. But the big difference is that the assassin's guild are a family, whereas the Punisher has no family.
When the Punisher tells Reiko that Abbey had a boss, Reiko contacts the guild and agrees to a truce so that they can find and kill Fletcher. But that ends the Punisher and Reiko's "relationship", and we see that the Punisher gets lonely.
Punisher, Reiko, and Masumi then run a scam to get Masumi in trouble (sexually assaulting a teenage girl) so that they can request the legal services of Richard Fletcher and get his address. And then they go into war mode.
Masumi is badly injured during the fight, but he gets to Fletcher and holds him so that the Punisher can shoot him, even though it means killing Masumi too.
The story wends with the father of the crazy guy, Kevin Reynolds, trying to hire the assassin's guild to kill the Punisher. But they refuse, and the Punisher likewise says that he's not going to do anything about the guild.
Sex, violence, and some PG-13 language confirms that this is a non-code Punisher story. But even though the way the relationship starts between the Punisher and Reiko is a little bizarre, there are some decent human moments in this story where Reiko and Masumi are briefly a substitute for the family that Frank Castle lost.
Jorge Zaffino's art is also really good at capturing the Punisher's insane side. In the long run, though, this is just one of a million random Punisher stories, and while it has its good points, it's mostly forgettable.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP drop this between Punisher #7-8, a gap that also has his Strange Tales appearances.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I think this story is the Punisher GN that Jo Duffy first mentioned back in 1985.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 18, 2014 6:33 PM
Ron Frenz was the originally announced artist(or, at least, the one before Jorge Zaffino).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 24, 2014 5:10 PM
At one point, Punisher guns down 4 thieves. They are stand ins for Lupin III and his gang. I'm surprised Mary Jo Duffy knew of the anime icon since he would have been obscure in 1988 America.
Posted by: EHH | November 30, 2014 1:24 AM
Jo Duffy scripted the English dialogue for Akira so it's no surprise she knew of Lupin III:)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | November 30, 2014 2:57 AM
She was a huge anime fan. Some of the alien races introduced in her run at the end of Marvel Star Wars are named after manga authors; the Hiromi and the Nagai come to mind.
Posted by: Thanos6 | December 1, 2014 6:12 PM
Thanks for the reminder Thanos6. My favourite run on Star Wars was Jo's run from #92-107 with Cynthia Martin:) And yep was waiting for her to introduce a race called the Kobayashi;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 2, 2014 8:09 AM
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