Punisher annual #4
Issue(s): Punisher annual #4
He's being tracked by two of the three Hydra Bounty Hunters that Strucker sent out after the escaped genetic experiments. Last issue we saw Crippler chasing Sathan. The two hunters here are Dakini and Ron Takimoto.
But despite Takimoto's offer to pool resources, Dakini leaves to pursue Romulus (in the final part of this story), leaving Takimoto to chase Guilotine alone.
But the Punisher is also looking into the heroin trade, and he winds up crossing paths with Takimoto, who has been slaughtering mobsters while searching for Guilotine.
Takimoto doesn't tell Punisher who he works for (i.e. Hydra) but offers an alliance in searching for Guilotine. But then Nick Fury comes in and reveals that Takimoto is Hydra.
Takimoto was tracked by the device in his neck that SHIELD learned about in the first part of this story. They remove it so that Strucker can't remotely kill Takimoto. But when Fury threatens to send Takimoto to his "cyber-psychic" (presumably Network Nina, who doesn't appear in this issue), Punisher objects, saying that Takimoto has info on the drug trade that he needs. And when Fury tells Punisher that his personal war isn't as important as stopping Hydra, Punisher amazingly sides with Takimoto, fighting SHIELD.
It's amazing not just because the Punisher teams up with a Hydra agent, but because Fury continues to handle the Punisher with kid gloves and this really won't affect their relationship even after this story.
Meanwhile, Guilotine takes over the Yakuza mob.
Punisher escapes with Takimoto and they go after Guilotine and his gang.
Takimoto is killed by Guilotine, and as he's dying he cryptically mentions a test.
Punisher pursues Guilotine, who is fleeing in a helicopter, and in the subsequent fight Punisher manipulates Guilotine into chopping off one of his own arms.
Fury moves on to investigating a Double Helix Genetics business card that he found on Takimoto, and Guilotine is rescued by Hydra.
So not only did the Punisher go against SHIELD to kill Guilotine, but Guilotine doesn't even die.
There's an idea in here about Hydra seeing Punisher as someone that might be recruited into their organization if they pitched (lied about) it the right way. I could see that being interesting. It might give us some insight into Hydra's recruitment strategies (which we also so a bit of in part one of this story with Crippler) and also would put Punisher's moral relativism to the test. But these annuals are very plot driven and there's really no character work. It's a very mechanical story. (That said, next issue will show that the idea of recruiting the Punisher is something Hydra is considering.)
Micro goes to a fat camp.
It turns out to be a scam to get people hooked on drugs. He teams up with a sheriff that is also at the camp.
But she turns out to not be on the up-and-up either.
Micro looks up her record and finds that she's under investigation for stealing drugs from the police evidence locker to sell on the streets. But she gets away.
The final story is a public service announcement. Wear your seatbelt.
One confusing thing about this annual is that it is full of house ads for other Punisher books, with pages that show giant splash panels from those books, and at first glance it looks like a regular page of the story.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part two of the Von Strucker Gambit. Part three is in Captain America annual #10.
Crossover: Von Strucker Gambit
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlexander Goodwin Pierce, Baron Von Strucker, Dakini, Guillotine, Jerry 'The Whale' Sabini, Microchip, Nick Fury, Punisher, Ron Takimoto
That guy-forced-to-drive-wears-seatbelt-kills-bad-guy scene was done in one of Tom Hanks' 80s movies.
Posted by: Bob | September 24, 2015 4:19 PM
One thing never made sense to me about the Microchip story- why did Micro delete the crooked deputy's file? Was he trying to protect her, and did he lie to Frank about being unable to find her?
Posted by: Michael | September 24, 2015 7:44 PM
This is the sort of story that can't possibly work. At the moment Nick Fury says "got no beef with you today, Frank" logic demands that the story immediately become about answering the unavoidable question of "how come?" Punisher is an unlawful vigilante, a common murderer. Ignoring that in favor of a groundless "we are all soldiers" pretense of logic greatly harms both characters, to say nothing of the story flow and the suspension of disbelief.
In essence, it means that the story is supposed to be in the odd genre of medieval fantasy with a veneer of modern day trappings, yet chose not to give us any warning.
Attempting to address this crippling contradiction of concept by making Punisher deeply delusional to the point that he has to ask Takimoto whether he is indeed working for Hydra marks the protagonist as both a naive fool and a dangerous madman. Not at all a wise move.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 25, 2015 4:35 AM
I just learned about the writer of the last story of this annual. A sad tale. Far as I can tell, this is his earliest work for Marvel.
He will go on to write a few more Punisher stories and much of a 1992 Annuals event ("Citizen Kang" IIRC).
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 8, 2016 2:18 AM
Yeah, it's hard knowing about him. I think I've stayed in that hotel.
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 8, 2016 2:40 AM
Caragonne's short, sad life -- a clean-cut comicbook fan who ended up working for (and possibly embezzling from) Penthouse -- is worthy of a comic itself. (The art style could start off all 'Archie' but grow darker and more explicit as it went on, for instance.)
Posted by: Oliver_C | March 8, 2016 6:36 AM
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