Characters Appearing: Kingpin, Microchip, Punisher
Punisher: The Ghosts of Innocents #1-2
Issue(s): Punisher: The Ghosts of Innocents #1, Punisher: The Ghosts of Innocents #2
The Punisher goes to bust up a drug deal that turns out to be bigger than he expected, and the end result is him chasing one of the crooks, a guy named Snake, onto a school bus. In the resulting scuffle, the driver is killed...
...and then the bus crashes into a train, killing all the kids. The Punisher and Snake survive. The Punisher is concussed, and thinks that he's being followed around by the ghosts of the kids from the bus.
Snake turns out to be an employee of the Kingpin, so the Punisher decides to go to the Kingpin and demand that Snake get turned over to him. Micro makes the case that we've seen before about taking out the Kingpin: it will result in a gang war that will tear apart the city. Ironically, this was published after Daredevil's Last Rites story which ended the Kingpin's reign, and a footnote acknowledges that.
The Punisher fights his way through the building, egged on by his ghosts.
But the Kingpin has already fled with Snake. Punisher passes out from his concussion, and is arrested by the police while unconscious. However, an unorthodox doctor uses shock therapy to bring the Punisher out of his coma, and the Punisher escapes before he's brought to prison. The Punisher then sets about disrupting all of the Kingpin's operations, ultimately resulting in billions of dollars worth of damages and a canceled alliance with some Colombian drug lords.
So the Kingpin eventually decides to negotiate, and he turns Snake over to the Punisher, dumping him in a train yard. Punisher shoots Snake in the leg and then keeps shooting to keep him on the train tracks, ensuring that he'll be run over by a train like the kids.
When it's over, the Punisher tells his ghosts that it's the best that he can give them.
That does cause the ghosts to disappear, but the Punisher does say that he's not kidding himself and "The truth is those kids are going to be with me for a long time to come". It does say something about the Punisher that he thinks that he can absolve himself of the death of kids (and the driver) that he was arguably just as responsible for as Snake, and it's not like the kids will ever cross his mind again outside this story. But at least he does seem to acknowledge in the end that he's not really giving them justice and saying that they'll continue to bother him on some level.
This is a quick read, definitely not worth the original cover price. And Tom Grindberg's art is kind of rough for a prestige format book. But it's a decent read.
According to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Starlin was dealing with some... unusual restrictions while working with the Punisher (Howe doesn't say that it was for this series specifically):
"If the Punisher appears in a panel with another character," Jim Starlin was told, "that character should be killed within the next few pages by either the Punisher or someone else. If the Punisher appears with any object, it should be destroyed as soon as possible."
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This was published in 1993 but it's one of many stories that needs to take place before the fall of the Kingpin in Daredevil #297-300 (as a footnote confirms).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
So now we're not even pretending that the Punisher's war doesn't get innocents killed? Why don't the heroes go after him again?
Posted by: Michael | November 19, 2015 7:37 PM
There is a strong Neal Adams influence in these Grindberg pencils.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 19, 2015 8:25 PM
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