Characters Appearing: Punisher
Issue(s): Punisher #26, Punisher #27
Erik Larson's run is over, so Golden Ager Russ Heath draws these two issues before William Reinhold and Mark Farmer become the regular art team with issue #28. And these are a particularly outrageous set of issues, and not just because of Heath's crazy eyebrows. The story has the Punisher taking on waste and corruption in the Defense budget, and ends with the Punisher having hijacked a nuclear submarine, arming the missiles, and pointing them at a mansion containing a defense contractor, an admiral, and a US senator. So it's not your typical Punisher story. It's also unusually political, a very anti-corporate (and certainly anti military-industrial complex) message.
The Punisher poses as a particularly violent member of the GAO and rescues a whistleblower that has evidence about deliberately shoddy workmanship on the aforementioned nuclear submarine. The whistleblower needed rescuing thanks to the defense contractor having sent goons to kill him.
His name is Herman Wiese and he was an engineer during the sub's construction.
Punisher gets Wiese deeper and deeper into trouble and they wind up stealing a mini-sub while trying to get a copy of Wiese's report after the original copy was lost to the goons.
Something about Punisher's wide, dead eyes as he says to Weise, "You don't see it, do you?" and then explains how he's going to have to blow up the defense contractor with missiles is particularly chilling.
We're certainly not left with any sympathy for the contractor or the senator.
Punisher manages to move from the mini-sub to the bigger nuclear sub and take it over so that he can broadcast Weise's message.
When the corrupt admiral sends another sub to sink the one the Punisher is in, despite the fact that it would kill all the sailors aboard, that's when Punisher suggests arming the nukes.
And that gets the president's attention.
The admiral at least has the decency to kill himself.
The Punisher and Wiese then escape and fake their deaths, and the Punisher puts Wiese in his own personal witness protection program, where he takes the name Lance Buchanan.
Russ Heath's art is actually a good fit for this story. Definitely better than his recent art on Moon Knight #4.
A very minor note regarding cover dates on these issues. On the cover, issue #26's date is given as Mid Nov, and #27 is Dec. But in the indicia, #26 has December, 1989 and #27 has January, 1990. Then with issue #28 it is Mid December on both the cover and in the indicia, so i'm assuming the indicia is just in error for #26-27 and i've listed the cover-cover dates. The mishap may have been related to the fact that Marvel was adjusting its cover dates due to the increase in the overall number of comics they were producing (see Matt's comment here).
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Issue 27 was and is my only punisher book and one that I bought in realtime. I enjoyed it and thought all punisher books were bond/spy/espionage/political like this one.
I guess there wasn't much to issue 26 as you've pretty much covered #27 more.
Posted by: JSfan | November 6, 2014 4:09 PM
#26 was more set-up, but i did skip over the action of Punisher and Wiese bluffing their way through the naval base and getting on the mini-sub.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 6, 2014 6:42 PM
Russ is one of my heroes, that's for sure.
I've always considered Russ more of a Silver Age artist due to his extensive work on the DC war and adventure comics, which, when you compare the two, aren't that far apart in style from a character like the Punisher, so this books suits him far better than superhero fare such as Moon Knight, (which I still enjoy as well) or other similar titles.
Posted by: Clutch | November 24, 2014 12:22 PM
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