Issue(s): Punisher #53, Punisher #54, Punisher #55, Punisher #56, Punisher #57, Punisher #58, Punisher #59
The impetus of this arc is the Kingpin taking George Tam Wong, the son of one of his accountants, under his wing and grooming him for bigger things. George suggests going after the Punisher, saying that they could get to him through Micro.
The Kingpin thinks that the Punisher is too much of a sociopath to care about the kidnapping of his allies, but George is able to convince him to try it, and of course the Kingpin is proved wrong in this case. Kingpin then uses his control of the Punisher to force him to go after Howard Nees, an upstart rival crimelord.
Doing so isn't too much of a stretch for the Punisher anyway, so he agrees...
...and he manages to kill off Nees.
But his attack attracts the attention of the police, and the Punisher doesn't see a way to escape them without shooting some cops, so he lets himself get arrested.
In prison, the Punisher refuses to join the Aryan Nation for protection, and he winds up in conflict with Jigsaw who (i guess in the first indication of the race-bending direction of this story) has allied himself with the Nubian Nation.
Jigsaw carves up the Punisher's face.
But in the prison infirmary, the Punisher shares his morphine with another prisoner...
...and that prisoner therefore tells him about a prison break planned by some friends from the outside. His friends bazooka a hole in the wall, which kills the other prisoner, and the Punisher (thanks to the bandages on his face) is mistaken for him.
Meanwhile, since the Punisher made good on his promise to kill Howard Nees, the Kingpin releases Micro. However, to be safe, Micro is deposited in rural Thailand. Micro is eventually able to make it back to the States (in part thanks to the fact that his Tank Game is popular there. It was also a toy fair where Micro was kidnapped by the Kingpin. The tank game turns out to be surprisingly important.), and he arranges for a plastic surgeon to fix Punisher's face. That's when things get interesting.
Let me just jump back a bit and talk about Max, the Punisher's dog. We first meet him when the Punisher goes to get that tank that you see him using against Howard Nees above. The tank was stored at a warehouse that Micro wasn't aware of, and Max is the security system.
As i noted in Punisher War Zone #37, which purports to give the origin for Max, there is a discrepancy. In this story, the Punisher says that he got Max from a crack dealer in Connecticut. That's different than what we see in the War Zone issue.
Later, when Micro disguises himself as a lawyer and visits the Punisher in prison, he makes sure that Micro feeds Max, and it seems to be the first time Micro is hearing about the dog.
Later, George breaks into the Punisher's warehouse, and is attacked by Max. George is driven off, but Max is injured.
And when Punisher, post-escape, arrives at the warehouse later, he seemingly kills Max.
Max will somehow still appear in Punisher War Journal #59-60. All of this suggested my Two Dog Theory, but what held me back was the fact that Micro helped name Max in the War Zone origin story. If that's the case, it would be pretty weird if the Punisher didn't mention the fact that he already had a dog named Max. So we can assume that Micro just never gave the dog a second thought after Punisher brought it back the first time, and that the Punisher was too rattled about Micro's capture to remember where he got Max. And that what looks like a mercy killing here is really some painful impromptu surgery. It will actually be confirmed in a later lettercol that it's the same dog. Fan reaction to killing Max here was very negative, so they just decided to bring him back (without ever giving an in-story reason).
Ok, back to the story. Punisher and Micro spend some time on the run from the Kingpin's men while Micro is contacting the surgeon. It turns out that she is less a plastic surgeon and more a junkie med school dropout that is on the run from someone.
She's also a mini-Punisher in the making herself, at least against morphine addicts.
But most importantly, she's been experimenting with melanin and tissue regeneration.
And that's how she's able to turn the Punisher into a black man.
I have to admit that i was in a rush to get to the end of this story, so i didn't cover all the ins and outs of the plot. It's a fun story with a lot of twists and fun/weird moments as we deal with the Kingpin, Howard Nees (who is very unstable, a good contrast with the Kingpin), the internal politics inside Ryker's, and Micro's disguise.
And of course Max, who the Punisher shows more emotion about than anyone outside of his dead family.
But all of that is overshadowed by the ending. Next issue: Luke Cage.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Obviously takes place before the fall of the Kingpin in Daredevil #297-300. And any generic appearances of the Punisher in other books should take place before this arc as well.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showGeorge Tam Wong, Gregario, Jigsaw, Kingpin, Max (Dog), Melinda Brewer, Microchip, Punisher
There are two cool covers for issue 57 -
And a painted one for issue 58 -
Posted by: clyde | November 19, 2015 4:03 PM
This was a decent series when read in real time. I prefer Punisher 15 to 18 Kingpin story but "Final Days" was keeping this book's head just above the rising water.
Posted by: Grom | November 19, 2015 7:10 PM
Nubian Nation was a real organization - an alternate name for the AnsaaruAllah Community / Nubian Islaamic Hebrews [sic]. Their adherents in the late 80s/early 90s included rappers Jay-Z, Intelligent Hoodlum, Zev Love X (later MF Doom), Tung Twista (later Twista), etc.
More recently they were known as the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. Their founder/spiritual leader, who claims extraterrestrial origins, is currently doing time for multiple counts (triple-digits) of sexual misconduct.
It's possible Baron was aware of the group (they had a strong presence in Brooklyn, Philly, and Atlanta). Or he might have just been riffing on 'Aryan Nations' and struck the name coincidentally.
Posted by: cullen | November 19, 2015 7:37 PM
My reaction to entering the thread and seeing Mulatto Punisher.
Posted by: JC | November 19, 2015 10:11 PM
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