Marvel Preview #2
Issue(s): Marvel Preview #2
Besieged! Inundated! Swamped! Words fail us... Whereof do we speak? Why, the response to the Punisher's awesome appearance in GIANT-SIZE SPIDEY #4!
If the above wasn't 100% hype, what surprises me is that Marvel only produced two black & white Punisher stories and then he was relegated back to guest appearances until 1986. It may be that the magazine format just wasn't doing well generally and Marvel didn't think a Code-approved color series would serve the character properly. It's in this magazine that the Punisher is able to use his guns the way guns were meant to be used for the first time - no rubber bullets and such (yes, he was responsible for the "death" of Moses Magnum in the Giant-Size Spidey issue but even there he didn't shoot Moses directly).
What's also surprising is how much this story written by Gerry Conway in 1975 reads like a Punisher story written in the late 80s. The villains are more James Bondian, but the tone of the book is very much as it will be 10 years later (although maybe he's a little more patriotic than you'd expect?).
I even find Tony DeZuniga's art to be a little Mike Zeck-ish (or i guess vice versa).
The Punisher has caught wind of a planned assassination attempt on a politician giving a speech on Wall Street, and the would-be assassin turns out to be an old squad mate of Frank Castle's.
This begins a trend of virtually everyone that fought alongside the Punisher in Vietnam turning out to be a criminal in one way or another.
This one is actually more of a dupe, though. The real bad guys of the story are an organization that is using disgruntled vets to further their goals. I did say they were more like James Bond villains, right? They're called the International Industrial Alliance, and they're going to take over the world with a laser.
They also have costumes for their goons (MC stands for Mark Christanson, the leader of the group)...
...and a forcefield.
Despite those somewhat more fantastic elements, it's a more "realistic" story than his previous appearances.
The big news in this story is that we get an origin for the Punisher. He was taking his family on a trip to the park when they stumbled across a mob hit, and were all shot down. Only Frank survived.
One bit that is a little thick is when the Punisher rescues the wife and children of his former squadmate from the organization that is preventing him from learning more about them. An obvious callback to Frank's origin.
One element that probably would have become a regular part of the series if it continued on is two FBI agents, one named Dave Hamilton and the other named Andy Morganstern (i found his first name on Marvel's wiki site; i can't find it in the comic), who are one step behind the Punisher throughout the issue.
They dig into the Punisher's past, and we learn that the Punisher is a deserter from the army because he was still enlisted when his family was killed. I never realized that.
The Punisher is described as being crazy a number of times in this story.
In the end, Hamilton vows to catch Frank even if it takes the rest of his life.
Well, that may eventually happen, but so far Hamilton has never appeared again.
As Mark notes, the issue also seems to be setting up a recurring informant character for the Punisher, named Grundy. But he won't be seen again.
The other character Mark mentions, Bruno Costa (last name not given yet), is one of the mobsters in the origin flashback. We will see him again, but since he's only listed in flashback here i haven't listed him as a Character Appearing.
I call him Frank Castle in this entry, but he's not actually named in this series. His former squadmate and the FBI report on him both manage to avoid naming him. We won't learn his name until that 1986 miniseries.
Overall, i'm very impressed with this.
Quality Rating: B
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - origin of the Punisher
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Classic Punisher #1
Inbound References (25): show
I did say they were more like James Bond villains, right? They're called the International Industrial Alliance, and they're going to take over the world with a laser.
To digress a little bit, Gerry Conway, who created the Punisher, once noted that he started reading Doc Savage because that other series in prose spent far too much time for him describing gourmet meals and golf while largely lacking the sort of gadgets Doc Savage had.* I recall that Conway made this comment in an introduction to a Sanctum Press reprint of the Doc Savage novels from Anthony Tollin. Doc Savage Double #18 featured the Gerry Conway quote. Conway seemed familiar with the pulps such as the Shadow (homaging him with Larry Cranston and Grant in the Committee perhaps) and Doc Savage. (He of course knew about paperback original novel heroes such as Mack Bolan.)
I infer, Fnord12, that you have perhaps not read either the novels or the comic strip adaptations.
*(The author had his hero use far more limited technology than one would expect based on your comments. The author also had the hero endure genital torture with a carpet beater and express disdain for homosexuals. Incidentally, the paramilitary fanbase wrote in about firearms to the author-sound familiar?)
Posted by: PB210 | February 11, 2015 6:43 PM
The sheer stupidity of professional killers conducting an execution in a public park during daytime has been commented on many times.
Posted by: Michael | February 11, 2015 8:40 PM
@PB210, correct, i've not read any of the Fleming novels and i'm really talking about the movies.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 11, 2015 9:28 PM
The Punisher's helper in this story never reappears, as far as I know.
I think "Bruno" appears in the other b&w Punisher story, which would make him a recurring character.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 11, 2015 9:29 PM
Grundy is shot in the story.
Posted by: JTI88 | December 12, 2016 5:48 PM
Comments are now closed.
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