Characters Appearing: Punisher
Issue(s): Punisher #1, Punisher #2
That said, the Punisher's book is usually pretty independent from the rest of the Marvel universe, so expect most of my reviews of his series to be "The Punisher kills drug dealers".
In these issues he tracks a drug supply to Bolivia and finds it run by a Vietnam vet former squadmate of his and a corrupt South Vietnamese General. He kills them.
The General is meant to be an allusion to this guy.
Some various items of interest:
We're still at a period where it has to be explained what crack is. This isn't unique to the Punisher; i've seen it in Power Pack and elsewhere around this time.
Punisher gets a tip on the drug smuggling from another Vietnam squadmate, who runs a business out of the Florida keys and later seemingly kills himself. Punisher gets the news from a "Sheriff Walters". Anyone know if She-Hulk's father moved to Florida?
This is just a random observation. But i always find it a little funny when people say they like comics like the Punisher and other non-powered heroes (i've even seen Daredevil and Iron Man put in this category) because they are "more realistic". It seems to be that if you can suspend your disbelief just once and accept that people can get super-powers, it's more realistic than having to suspend it every time guys like the Punisher take a thousand volts of electricity to the chest and then break free of their bonds and start tossing guys around one handed...
...or managing to mow down an army of guards without taking any bullets.
Hell, it's fun either way; just saying that the Punisher for all intents and purposes is as much a super-person as Spider-Man. Maybe not super-hero, but that's a different conversation.
Punisher does manage to stay in "costume" even when he's left his formal outfit behind.
It's said that the Punisher used to use his "war paint" back in Vietnam. We've already seen that in The 'Nam Punisher issues, but i think this is the first mention of that in publication time.
Baron puts forth the idea that the Punisher might have a deathwish. Interesting that he makes the Punisher acknowledge that himself. I don't think of him as the self-aware type.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Janson's art was criticized back then for supposedly making everybody look 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. His style definitely did undergo some changes from his solo chapter in Superman #400 three years before.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 6, 2014 6:37 PM
The biggest problem with Baron's Punisher is that it seems like a series of 1-2 issues plots that repeat over and over again. There's not much of a sense that the Punisher is embedded in the real world, or has a greater story to tell.
Supporting or recurring cast is minimal. There's Microchip, and that is about it. It would have been good to see allies that the Punisher had built up over the years - sympathizing law enforcement officials, family members who lost loved ones to criminals that he's avenged, survivalists, suppliers, or mentors. Nor do we see an FBI Punisher task force that is trailing him, or some other antagonists that the Punisher would not want to kill and thus be recurring.
I also don't remember any kind of long term project that the Punisher would ideally pursue like bringing down one of the Maggia families or wiping out a worldwide white slavery ring. Instead of just killing people and moving on, we'd see some planning and detective work.
Maybe I'm wrong and Baron did do some of this, but it's not what I remember. Just a lot of short stories that all merge into each other and seem indistinct.
If the corrupt Vietnamese General is really supposed to an allusion to Ngyun Ngoc Loan, it's too bad. The photographer of that picture stated he regretted taking the picture because it ruined his reputation, and out of context, it didn't tell the entire story behind the act. The person he executed was a Communist death squad commander who had just engaged in mass murder. The execution could well have been perfectly within the confines of martial law given the chaos of the Tet Offensive. Wikipedia has more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguyen_Ngoc_Loan
Posted by: Chris | April 6, 2014 10:21 PM
According to some sources, such as Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake, Loan was corrupt and involved in the drug trade while he was in Vietnam. Other sources portray him more sympathetically. Guerilla wars are messy and brutal and both sides vilify the other. We should probably avoid discussing this further to avoid getting into politics.
Posted by: Michael | April 6, 2014 10:46 PM
Great point on the "realism". In a lot of ways, having a guy with spider-speed dodge bullets is more realistic that having the unpowered punisher do the same.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 7, 2014 10:34 AM
At the time Baron was writing this, he was also writing the Flash and Sonic Disruptors for DC. His efforts there weren't received too well(Disruptors was a 12-issue maxiseries, and it got cancelled slightly more than halfway through), and it was stated later that was due to Baron being "coked up". Maybe that's the reason for the plot repetitiveness here?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 7, 2014 2:16 PM
The first Punisher miniseries (mentioned by Fnord here but not (yet?) indexed) surprised the heck out of me simply for existing with its premise. The character does not really work as a continued presence in the Marvel Universe, and making a regular protagonist out of him was one of the main, most visible signs of the darkening under way.
Personally, I wish Peter Parker #83 (which is indexed in the 1983 entries) had been more meaningful. The character's premise made it a far more logical and reasonable destiny than this odd situation where he somehow keeps free to act and even teaming up time and again with the likes of Moon Knight and even Spider-Man. It makes most other characters look pitifully ineffective or even hypocritical.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 8, 2014 12:19 AM
Here is the review of the first Punisher's miniseries:
Posted by: Midnighter | April 8, 2014 3:54 AM
The first issue was reportedly the best-selling Marvel for that month.
Mike Baron later stated that he had the first 7 issues written before #1 was published, and the original scripts were much bloodier and gorier than what finally saw print.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 6, 2014 5:37 PM
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