Punisher War Journal #12-13
Issue(s): Punisher War Journal #12, Punisher War Journal #13
Unlike the regular Punisher book, the War Journal Acts of Vengeance issues give the Punisher a more power-appropriate villain to fight. It's Bushwacker, previously seen in Daredevil. What i do find interesting is that even though both issues of this arc have December cover dates (#13 was "mid Dec"), it spoils the ending of the regular Punisher AoV story, which didn't end until issue #29, which had a Jan cover date.
Granted it doesn't literally give away the ending, but it confirms that Doom didn't defeat the Punisher (which i guess is no surprise) but more importantly that Doom "chose" not to kill him, which is a moderately significant element of that story.
Anyway, in the Punisher story, the Kingpin said he wasn't interested in killing the Punisher, but now he's trying to one-up Dr. Doom, so he arranges to have Bushwacker go after him.
Before that, though, the first eight pages of issue #12 are set up to create a parallel between the Punisher and Bushwacker. Side-by-side on each page, we see each character setting up to go after their intended victims.
(I was equally annoyed when i got to the end of Steinbeck's King Arthur book, too. Just when it was getting good.)
One big difference, of course, is that the Punisher is killing drug dealers, while Bushwacker, hired by the Marauders, is killing a mutant artist. Loki uses the contrast between the two characters to put Bushwacker in the right psychological mood to go after the Punisher.
That's initially not enough to convince Bushwacker to give up the current work that he was doing for the Marauders, but he agrees to take the job when Loki mentions that the Punisher is an ally of Daredevil's.
Loki also provides Bushwacker information on Jason Hunt, the son of the man whose execution Frank Castle's family stumbled upon in Punisher's origin sequence. The Punisher met Jason more recently. Bushwacker locates him, tortures him for information, and kills him, all off panel. Hunt's death puts Micro on alert, and he warns Punisher to skip his annual Central Park kite flying memorial this year. But Punisher goes anyway.
I should mention that it is "Some weeks later" between Loki's hiring of Bushwacker and the next panel, which shows that Bushwacker has tortured and killed Hunt. This is still in issue #12, but i briefly wondered if that explained why issue #13, which is a direct continuation of this story, is not touted as an Acts of Vengeance issue on the cover (it does mention "vengeance"). I thought maybe Bushwacker got hired without Loki and company realizing that he's the sort of mercenary that takes weeks to plan his kill, and by the time Bushwacker got started, Acts of Vengeance was over. But that's not the case. Loki, Dr. Doom, and Kingpin continue to appear in this story after the "Some weeks later" caption.
As part of the info he got from Hunt, Bushwacker learns the Punisher's origin, and he's not as impressed with it as he is his with own origin.
That's kind of meta, and almost feels like it's a comment that would be more at home in Damage Control than here.
Speaking of meta, let me go off on a brief tangent here. One thing i don't like to see is when villains are more scared of the Punisher than they are of, say, Spider-Man or even the Avengers. The idea is that the Punisher will actually kill them, while the other heroes won't. But i feel like that's a very meta kind of reasoning. In real life after being defeated by a super-hero you'd probably walk away with serious long term injuries and would go to jail for life. It's only because villains always keep coming back that super-heroes seem ineffective compared to the Punisher. Meanwhile, the Punisher has no super-powers and should be no threat to any villain with even moderate powers. Villains should be much more afraid of Spider-Man than him.
I mention all this because in this story, Bushwacker beats the holy hell out of the Punisher.
Two things save the Punisher. First, the fact that both characters have had a past history as priests, and Bushwacker keeps trying to get the Punisher to "confess" before he dies. Second, really a superset of the first, is the fact that Bushwacker is crazy.
So Bushwacker just leaves, and after hallucinating about his dead wife, the Punisher wakes up to Micro giving him CPR.
The squabbling between the arch-villains continues.
The Punisher later goes for a rematch by attacking Bushwacker at his house.
This time, the Punisher is saved by Bushwacker's wife.
The credits on this issue (#13) said the art was by David Ross and Russ Heath and i had a note to myself to confirm those credits online, because some of that art, especially the wife's face, looked to me like Mark Farmer inks. The credits were wrong, but even wronger than i realized: it's Jim Lee (as with issue #12) and Dan Bulanadi.
Bushwacker's wife's anger and decision to leave upsets Bushwacker greatly.
In the ensuing confusion, Punisher is able to (seemingly) kill Bushwacker. We see Doom rubbing it in the next day with an uncharacteristic "Ha!".
This is a nice solid story that makes the effort to do something a little more by setting up the parallels between Bushwacker and Punisher, and i have to admit the fact that the Punisher doesn't come across as a immortal earns it some points from me.
Chronological Placement Considerations: Definitely takes place after Punisher #29. I'm not sure if those "Some weeks later" should be taken seriously. I'd love to line them up with the longer stretch of non-AoV X-Men comics that have to take place during Acts of Vengeance, but i want Punisher #29 after Avengers #312 which has to take place after Uncanny X-Men #255. I may have to adjust Punisher #29 vs. Avengers #312 based on some additional Freedom Force appearances, though, and if so my consolation prize will be lining up these weeks.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBushwacker, Dr. Doom, Jason Hunt, Kingpin, Loki, Marilyn Burbank, Microchip, Punisher
Any ideas about what that line on the last scan about the retirement of the newscaster might mean?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 3, 2015 6:20 PM
They had Loki bribe the newscaster to mess with Bushmaster's head in that TV scan i posted. Now that he's reporting on Bushmaster's failure, i assume they're having him killed.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 3, 2015 6:40 PM
Oh, I see. Thanks!
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 3, 2015 6:45 PM
This issue, I assume, is why Bushwhacker was in the Punisher arcade game. A reason, at least.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | April 3, 2015 8:42 PM
This is the only story where Bushwacker is said to be working for the Marauders. It doesn't seem to match up with the eventual Dark Beast explanation as to why the Marauders killed the Marauders.
Posted by: Michael | April 3, 2015 10:40 PM
That was meant to be "Marauders killed the Morlocks".
Posted by: Michael | April 4, 2015 1:21 PM
I was disgusted with the death of the innocent artistic mutant. This was powerfully conveyed by Lee and continued the graphic violence started in the Mutant Massacre. Not sure why she had to die. Michael? fnord? Had to skip these issues when reading to my kids.
Posted by: Grom | September 14, 2016 11:21 PM
Not sure exactly what you're asking but the idea seems to be that Bushwacker was a hired gun for the Maruaders, and he was basically continuing the Mutant Massacre. As Michael says, the situation didn't really line up with what was eventually explained for the Marauders, but i guess at the time it was kind of wide open and creators wanted to riff on it. The violence doesn't seem entirely out of place, either in the context of the Mutant Massacre or as a Punisher story, but i can see why you'd skip it for your kids.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 15, 2016 2:43 PM
I would've made more sense to tie Bushwacker into something like Project: Wideawake, especially since there are a lot of suggestions that the CIA or some other government group converted him into a cyborg. Of course, his origins get even more tangled over the years thanks to later writers inexplicably stating that he himself is a mutant and having him do stuff like eat bullets and gunpowder to reload his gun arm.
As to why villains might fear the Punisher more than, say, Spider-Man, I suppose it could b argued that the Punisher is scarier because *all he does* is go after you. Villains may not know Spider-Man has a personal life and secret ID, and the Avengers may be powerhouses, but they're also distractible and have a track record of letting go of their pursuit of you if something bigger or something else comes along. The Punisher? He makes the target his entire mission and doesn't stop until it's destroyed. And he doesn't "fight fair;" he's more likely to snipe you from across the street as to show up to have a fistfight in the street.
Of course, that doesn't fit very well with all these Punisher stories where he does act more like a standard costumed hero who uses guns, and it certainly wouldn't matter against villains above a certain level of physical power. Really, the Punisher's actual track record against supervillains is no better than anyone else's.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 5, 2017 8:56 AM
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