Punisher War Journal #14-15
Issue(s): Punisher War Journal #14, Punisher War Journal #15
We'll learn later what happened to the two girl babies, but the boy grew up and came to America and is now giving speeches in Central Park. Peter Parker calls in to the Bugle to make sure it's worth his time to take pictures of him, and J. Jonah Jameson grabs the phone to say that it is.
A riot breaks out at the park, but the police handle it and Peter doesn't have to become Spider-Man. JJ then calls him back to the Bugle so that he can write up a story for the next edition.
Of some minor interest (they get a lot of play in these issues) are a pair of Neo-Nazis that were injured in a car crash supposedly caused by an immigrant. One is blind, and the other is paralyzed, so they work together as a hunting team.
Oh, and their boss is a nut who thinks he talks to angels.
Meanwhile, Microchip unveils a new Battlevan. This one has a machine gun connected to a cybernetic helmet.
Micro taps into the lead Nazi's computers and realizes that people that have crossed him in the past wind up dead. They realize that some of the protestors quoted in JJ's editorial are now marked for assassination, so the Punisher goes to their house. Peter Parker is also sent to the house for some follow-up pictures. So that's how the Punisher and Spider-Man wind up fighting an army of Neo-Nazis together.
Spider-Man tells Punisher no killing while he's around.
Note also the increased prevalence of Spider-Man's eye slots shrinking and growing in size. I'm not sure exactly when this started, but i associate it with Todd McFarlane. It's now made it's way to more workhorse type artists like David Ross.
Spider-Man goes with the Punisher to take the fight to the lead Neo-Nazi's compound. But while they're driving, they hear a news bulletin saying that the Neo-Nazis have stormed the Daily Bugle in retaliation for JJ's editorial. And Mary Jane happens to be at the Bugle as well., So Spider-Man tells the Punisher to turn the van around. At that point they are surrounded by more troops.
Punisher goes to use his new helmet machine gun, but Spider-Man stops him.
Carl Potts sets up an interesting moral dilemma for Spider-Man here. Whether he realizes it or not, he's already a little compromised by working with the Punisher instead of trying to stop him. But he did at least tell the Punisher not to kill "while I'm around". But now his wife and colleagues are endangered. And hell, they're fighting Nazis. So does he compromise further?
The answer, at the beginning of issue #15, is no, he doesn't. And it's presented as if there's no consequences; Spider-Man and the Punisher still make it to the Bugle to save MJ and the main Bugle cast. But a few people are killed before they get there: at a minimum two security guards and an unnamed female Bugle employee.
Again, this doesn't seem to be deliberately set up to show the consequences of Spider-Man's insistence on not killing, but it could be read that way.
Betty's comment also makes it sound like she knows that Peter is Spider-Man and she's telling MJ to get her damn husband over here already, but that probably also wasn't intended.
As the Punisher and Spider-Man are making their way to the Bugle, we learn more of the Neo-Nazi leader's origin. The nurse that took him and the two girls at the end of WWII died while raising them in South America. The two girls disappeared one day, and the boy spent years looking for his "sisters", eventually going to America. He eventually started seeing visions of angels calling him the "son" of Hitler and telling him that America's melting pot is a mistake that he had to correct. Micro (referred to only as "M" in front of Spider-Man) tells the Punisher what he's learned of this, and says that the Nazi has "a contactee syndrome... he lost his family at an early age and attached himself to a doctrine that makes him feel important -- that he's got a mission in life". This is accompanied with a flashback of the Punisher's family getting shot down in case we don't see the parallel, but the Punisher shrugs it off.
Spider-Man and the Punisher fight their way through the Bugle.
The lead Nazi coincidentally tries to use MJ as a hostage.
And indeed throws her out the window to distract Spider-Man.
Luckily there's no "snap" sound effect in that panel.
JJ gets in on the action too.
And the Punisher stops the two Neo-Nazis that were in the car accident.
In the end, Punisher almost comes across Peter as he takes his mask off to comfort MJ...
...and Peter's ending is contrasted with the Punisher's, which leads him to skulking through the sewer.
An interesting thing about both Punisher books is that there are little hints throughout that the Punisher is not quite right in the head. You can see it here with Micro's response to the Punisher in the Battlevan unveiling sequence("Uh, yeah, Frank") as well as the "contactee syndrome" parallel and the contrast in endings for Spider-Man and the Punisher. The Punisher is the protagonist of this story, but he's not necessarily the hero, especially when Spider-Man guest stars and the whole book's premise gets turned on its head thanks to Spidey's no killing rule. In fact, this book sometimes reads more like a Spider-Man book than the Punisher's. If this book were "biased" in favor of the Punisher, you'd expect Spider-Man's decision to go the slower, non-lethal route would result in it being very explicit that there were some deaths on his head, but the book does not do that.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: J. Jonah Jameson getting bought out by Puma, losing control of the Daily Bugle, must have been one of the best kept secrets in the Marvel offices. In this story, JJ is at the Bugle, and he publishes an editorial and is acting like he's in charge. I considered placing this out of sequence for this series, prior to Spectacular Spider-Man #156 when Puma takes over the Bugle. But there's a mention of the Punisher's Battlevan having been destroyed, which, although unfootnoted, i assume was meant to be a reference to Punisher #28-29, which takes place during Acts of Vengeance and therefore after Spectacular Spider-Man #156. I could pretend that the Battlevan had already been destroyed and replaced prior to Punisher #28-29, but having to do that and place this story out of sequence is not something i really want to do. Instead i'm assuming that Puma still keeps Jameson employed in some limited capacity while he owns the Bugle, maybe just as an opinion columnist with the stipulation that he not write about Spider-Man. We do know that he's still involved in the publication of Morgana Blessing's book in Doctor Strange, for example. So maybe that's what's going on, and the rest is just his normal take charge attitude. For Spider-Man, obviously this takes place while he doesn't have the Captain Universe powers; the MCP have it after Amazing Spider-Man #329. They also have the Punisher here after Punisher #30-32, but if we're using the state of the Battlevan as a Consideration, this arc should probably take place before that, since this is the story where the latest van is deployed.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBetty Brant, Glory Grant, J. Jonah Jameson, Kate Cushing, Mary Jane Watson, Microchip, Punisher, Spider-Man
As always, this shows the double standard that the punisher gets from other heroes. "No killing while im around" but after we part, go ahead and go back to killing.
Posted by: kveto | April 15, 2015 1:19 PM
Is that really Hitler, though, or one of his many body doubles (aka "Mein Bots")?
Posted by: TCP | April 15, 2015 1:43 PM
We don't actually see Hitler pulling the trigger though, and What If #4 established that the Torch burned in just before he could.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 15, 2015 10:40 PM
The trouble with the "while I am around" clause is that it is so unnecessary and arbitrary. Peter can pursue and capture Punisher if he wants, and he knows that.
Punisher just does not work as a shared-universe protagonist in a world of superheroes.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 16, 2015 10:52 AM
Ross drew a great Spidey, but, here, he suffers from the weird MacFaralnism of having the white on his mask have the magic ability to squint.
Posted by: Bob | April 29, 2015 5:12 AM
Maybe I was just a blind Jim Lee fan but I really disliked these issues especially coming after the gritty Bushwhacker story.
Posted by: Grom | October 3, 2015 12:22 PM
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