Punisher War Journal #8-9
Issue(s): Punisher War Journal #8, Punisher War Journal #9
The issue opens with a deliberate fake out. We see a local man that is "fed up" with crime in his area, coupled with narration from the Punisher, and the man is approached by someone in black gloves.
But then we turn the page to see the guy brutally blown away by the gang leader.
It's worth noting that at least since his regular series(es), i think this is the first time the Punisher has gone up against a gang of non-white inner city drug dealers. It's sort of the stereotype that that's all the Punisher does, something that the books have been criticized for, and i think it's interesting to see it here in Carl Pott's book first instead of in the more politically conservative Mike Baron's book.
The Punisher does show what counts as his bleeding heart liberal side when he doesn't maim one of the younger members of the gang, Ron, in front of his grandmother.
We'll see more of Ron in a future issue.
The other thing going on in these issues is the characters that we've seen running the grocery in the same building as the Punisher's uptown safehouse graduating into a full-blown subplot. An uncle Manzo shows up...
...and he says that he's found a lead regarding their quest for a grandmaster in the Ninpo arts.
Then they're attacked by a "Sunrise assassin" in a bulky exo-skeleton...
...that turns out to be piloted by Yuriko's father.
This sub-plot spills into the next issue and becomes the main plot. It's worth noting that issue #8 promoted the upcoming Shadowmaster series; it began coming out concurrently with issue #9 . The series (which takes place entirely in the past and is placed earlier than these issues in my project) actually doesn't provide a ton of insight into these characters. It does give us the background of Yuriko Ezaki and Phil Richards and the Sunrise organization that is after them, and it did say, in passing, that the Sunrise Society was into cloning, which explains why Yuriko's father's face is seen on the Sunrise troops. But the series actually ends with Yuriko and Phil thinking they had defeated the Sunrise Society, so we don't know how that got reignited. And it's also been about 5 years since that series ended, so we don't know what Yuriko and Phil have been up to in the meantime (besides running a deli in a building shared with one of the Punisher's safehouses), and the series didn't touch at all on the characters Rikichi or Uncle Manzo.
Anyway, issue #9 also has a Black Widow guest appearance, so we open with her.
That's a great Jim Lee face.
Note that Black Widow is referring to Daredevil as a lawyer, and it seems like he's been in recent communication with her. He's definitely not currently a lawyer, and Black Widow knows that. But he had been acting in the capacity of a legal advisor up until Inferno, after which he burned down his clinic and went roaming the country, which is what his current status quo was at publication date. The idea that he's asked the Black Widow to look in on the deli people instead of doing it himself seems to acknowledge that he's not in town. It's not necessarily the case that he recently contacted her, though. He could have left her a message or a previous request to look in on the deli from time to time, and it just so happens that the Widow is back from one of her espionage missions on a Saturday night.
The Widow and Daredevil never read the Shadowmasters series, so as far as they know, Rikichi, Philip, and Yuriko are just ordinary people having trouble from vandals sent by a landlord to drive them out of the building.
Daredevil has also told the Black Widow that the Punisher sometimes hangs around the building she's been asked to guard. "Matt didn't have to warn me to be careful of that bundle of runaway testosterone!".
Before the Black Widow makes it to the people she's supposed to be looking in on, she notices some crooks about to break in to a skylight.
The Widow really isn't a "younger woman" but obviously the crooks don't know that.
Meanwhile, we get an instant replay on the end scene from last issue, and it's not a flashback.
Kind of odd storytelling choice to just repeat a scene from the last issue.
As the Shadowmaster characters (and extended family) flee their apartment, we see Rikichi sensing that "he" is not home, so they shouldn't expect any additional help (from the Punisher).
But in fact the Punisher does come home, using high tech equipment in his battle van to fight off the Sunrise assassins.
Punisher and Yuriko both get knocked out during the fight. When the Widow shows up, she sees that the deli owners are much more than that, and makes a comment about Daredevil's naivety. She's also not sure who to help; for all she knows the Shadowmasters are criminals and the Sunrise soldiers are from the government. Meanwhile, Rikichi causes some kind of mind meld between Punisher and Yuriko, emphasizing their similar origins and showing that they have a common enemy.
Black Widow does decide to get involved, and she's visualized as a giant black widow spider as part of Rikichi's mind meld sequence.
We do see her help out for real as well.
In the end, the Shadowmaster characters decide to head out to look for a "conclusion", while the Punisher makes friends with the Widow.
It's not a great story. A lot of it hinges on knowing and caring about the Shadowmasters, and their story interferes with any kind of interaction between the Punisher and the Black Widow, which might have been more interesting. The high tech Sunrise assassins and the equally high tech equipment in the Punisher's van seem to be taking him away from what he's supposed to be about. But Jim Lee's art is nice and it's a decent action story.
It's announced that the Punisher War Journal title will be going monthly like the regular series, so obviously people did like it.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Punisher has been staying away from his uptown safehouse for "over a week" after discovering last issue that someone besides Daredevil knows that he uses it. See above regarding why i'm basically ignoring any placement considerations for Daredevil. The MCP have the Black Widow here after Fantastic Four annual #22 but it's really a context free appearance.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
"Damage," the gang leader, pops up again in the Punisher/Wolverine miniseries as a cyborg assassin.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | October 22, 2014 7:34 PM
I've added Damage as a character appearing. Thanks, Mike.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 22, 2014 9:11 PM
Hey, Fnord. Will you be reviewing the Shadow Masters limited series?
Posted by: JSfan | October 23, 2014 6:07 AM
Yep, coming soon.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 23, 2014 7:47 AM
"Kind of odd storytelling choice to just repeat a scene from the last issue."
Posted by: Michael | November 2, 2014 1:17 PM
"The high tech Sunrise assassins and the equally high tech equipment in the Punisher's van seem to be taking him away from what he's supposed to be about".
Nick Fury once won the title of Best Normal Adventure Hero, so such technology may not disqualify one from that category. This serves as a sort of follow-up to an earlier comment I made.
Best Normal Adventure Hero: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (26) - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/knowledge-base/for-your-reference/comics-fan-awards-1961-1970#sthash.X0Sf9r7i.dpuf
Posted by: PB210 | November 8, 2014 7:34 PM
Comments are now closed.
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