Characters Appearing: Daredevil, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Lynn Michaels, Microchip, Noble Kale, Punisher
Punisher War Journal #57-58
Issue(s): Punisher War Journal #57, Punisher War Journal #58
Punisher blows up the entire building and walks away. This has nothing to do with the rest of the plot of these issues. It's just character establishment.
After that, the Punisher hears a scream and follows it to a nearby church. Inside, a group of para-military troops are shooting up a group of nuns. And their actions also attract the attention of Ghost Rider.
One of the troops takes a nun as a hostage, but Punisher shoots him anyway. This draws a rebuke from Ghost Rider, since Punisher was endangering an innocent. But Punisher sends Ghost Rider to chase the remaining troops while he attends to the nun. It turns out that she dies anyway, for reasons unrelated to the shooting. She and all of her sisters have been drained of blood through puncture wounds on their wrists. Punisher then rejoins Ghost Rider.
A lot of these issues are about the Punisher coming to grips with Ghost Rider being a supernatural creature. So for example he's something like terrified when he sees Ghost Rider survive a direct hit from a missile launched from a helicopter (and yeah, that fight escalated quickly).
The idea that the Punisher is worried that hanging out with Ghost Rider will affect his soul, after all the murdering that he does, is a bit much, though.
An interesting device is that while the Punisher narrates about Ghost Rider, we see un-narrated scenes of Daredevil investigating the same crimes on his own.
I think it's funny that the cops are investigating a scene where the Punisher and Ghost Rider shot up a bunch of paramilitary guys and they're all talking like there's no evidence. No mention of tire tracks? Spent shells? All they seem to see is what the paramilitary guys did.
Another funny aspect is that instead of just driving around and letting his mystical powers bring him to the bad guys, Ghost Rider agrees to hang with Punisher while he works his contacts. So you have Ghost Rider just kind of sitting on the corner while Punisher calls police officer Lynn Michaels.
Also: "the" vampire killings? Are these separate from "the" vampire killings being investigated in Morbius' book?
Also also: the Punisher is driving a taxi in this story.
It's not the first time he's used a taxi, but an explanation for why he's using one here would have been nice.
Daredevil winds up getting to the paramilitary group's base first, but he winds up getting captured. It turns out that the group has been draining blood from nuns because with public distrust in blood blanks (implied but not said: AIDS), a black market for "pure" blood has developed.
Daredevil's blood is tested and he's given a clean bill of health, which means the group intends to drain him too.
Daredevil manages to escape just as the Punisher and Ghost Rider arrive. And Daredevil lets the leader run, knowing that the Punisher and Ghost Rider will kill him. So Daredevil adds the third facet of morality to the story. We have the Punisher, willing to kill criminals even if innocents are put at risk, Daredevil not willing to kill at all, and Ghost Rider occupying the middle ground of being willing to kill as long as innocents - which includes Daredevil - aren't affected (and when that's your middle ground, you know the Overton Window has shifted).
While they're debating it, the leader returns with a machine gun, but he's killed by the newly arrived Lynn Michaels. Who immediately turns out to be pretty unstable.
By the way, Lynn doesn't even seem to know that she's dealing with the Punisher, or at least she doesn't know the Punisher's real name (which i thought was a matter of public record at this point; at least the "Frank Castle" version).
Daredevil and Ghost Rider have the good sense to clear out once Lynn starts melting down. We don't even see them leave. And while the very end of this makes it look like Lynn and the Punisher are walking away from each other, the Punisher will still be with Lynn at the start of the next arc.
I actually love the way Punisher describes Ghost Rider in this story. It might be a little late in coming (see References) but it's a great way to have a (relatively speaking) grounded character like the Punisher reacting to the supernatural elements of the Marvel universe. And this sort of story is what Punisher War Journal should be for: having the Punisher interact with elements of the Marvel universe. Ghost Rider and Daredevil are close enough in theme that it's not, like, the Punisher teaming up with the Fantastic Four to fight Ego the Living Planet or anything. But it takes Frank out of the usual world of mobsters and drug dealers and Chuck Dixon uses Punisher's War Journal narration to give us a point of view on these characters that reminds us that they are supposed to be "super" and unusual. Gary Kwapisz's art is not flashy, but his more traditional layouting serve the story well.
When i judge these stories, i try to put aside my real life views about dealing with crime. The sequence at the beginning of this arc would be completely odious in real life. But i can't help finding it hilarious as a comic. It's so over the top. But it becomes harder to put that sort of thing aside when the responses in the lettercol make it sound like we're actually meant to think that the Punisher might be "right". In issue #58's lettercol, someone writes in objecting to a previous response to a letter where the Punisher was referred to as "a hero (who) can do extraordinary things". The writer continues:
Wrong, guys. Frank Castle is no hero. He's just the opposite -- criminal, vigilante, renegade, murderer, arsonist, bomber. He's a social outcast and a psychological killer, but he's no hero.
Personally i don't agree that Punisher comics are responsible for these attitudes (or the violence) rather than being a reflection of it, but that's besides the point. In the past letters like these have gotten responses saying things along the lines of the Punisher just being a fictional character, not an advocacy for a real response to crime. This time, though, the response is a bit more aggressive:
You are correct about that "little" error. The line should have read: "A man who can do extraordinary things".
That sounds like it's written by a true believer and it misses the writer's point that the Punisher's vigilantism is the problem (regardless of what crimes his victims have committed). If only there were more people out there making their own judgement on what buildings should be blown up with mortar shells, society would be a lot better.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Daredevil should appear here before his costume change in Daredevil #319-325 (Fall From Grace). The next arc continues soon after this one, but it's a separate story so i'll place it in a separate entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Putting aside the question of possible innocent bystanders, why is the Punisher blowing up drug dealers anyway? I always figured he had a more Libertarian attitude. If they were drug dealers who also happened to be murderers, sure. But I just don't see "meth wincher" as a capital offense.
Posted by: Andrew | February 1, 2017 5:37 PM
... what the ...
if you say so.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 1, 2017 7:51 PM
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