Punisher: War Machine Part 1 (Punisher #218 Comic Review)

With Marvel Legacy kicking in, Frank’s story now returns to the greater Marvel Universe in a post-Secret Empire world. Castle is offered a mission by a man not many can say no to and the perks for this one are just too good for the Punisher to turn down.

Punisher #218
Writer: Mathew Rosenberg

Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:

Becky Cloonan’s run put Frank up against a new nemesis, the drug enhanced Face and being targeted by the D.E.A agent Ortiz in his own little universe. Now with Marvel Legacy, we see the Punisher return to the greater continuity in a world dealing with the fallout of Secret Empire, where Frank had chosen to side with Hydra and Stevil Rodgers to hunt bad guys and a chance that they would bring back his family with the power of the Cosmic Cube.

(Warning, spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the issue)

What You’ll Find Out:
Frank is on a standard mission to take down an international weapons dealer, as usual, he does so with a plethora of violence, bullets, and explosions. Upon returning to his van/base of operations, he notices he has an unexpected guest, Nick Fury. With S.H.I.E.L.D. now out of the picture, Fury’s assets are limited. The super spy convinces Castle to join him for a meal to discuss an international problem that needs dealing with. Frank is reluctant to accept, even though it is connected to his earlier mission. Fury is rarely one to not get his way and offers the Punisher a little sweetener to help him along with the operation. The only problem is that Castle will have to acquire it himself from the U.S. Airforce.

Frank infiltrates the base with ease, even following Fury’s rule of no killing. Though the alarm is raised, he still makes it into the secure vault where the equipment is kept and seals himself in. When Castle opens up the specific unit containing his goal, we see a rare occurrence of the Punisher grinning. Frank suits up in the War Machine armor and blasts his way out, flying off into the night.

After the main story, we get a rehashed tale of the Punisher’s origin. His family gunned down after witnessing a mob hit with Frank surviving and using his special forces training to become a force of justice where he deems the system to be failing.

What Just Happened?

A typical arms deal in New York is interrupted by the Punisher in his trademark style. The dealer comments on the buyer’s nationality, hoping that “His man Doom won’t come after them for trading with y’all”. The buyer states they are from Chernaya and how would he like it if they called him Canadian. Frank takes out the guard quietly and leaves a little surprise for the unsuspecting criminals to get the party started.

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The Punisher clears the field and pursues the escaping buyers, setting off explosives as they try and board their ship docked out in the harbor. As Frank goes back to his home, he finds Nick Fury waiting for him in the van commenting “Do you live in here, where do you go to the bathroom?”. With a gun still pointed at him, Fury tells Castle he has files upon files on him and knows he won’t shoot. After some convincing, Nick takes Frank to a restaurant to discuss a proposition. With Castle not interested in the slightest, Nick gets his attention with murders of innocent families and children. The mission turns out to involve a military coup in Chernaya, where the weapons Frank just stopped making their way to.

Fury wants the Punisher to deal with the core of the problem, as Fury’s hands are tied with no more S.H.I.E.L.D. and a close ‘eye’ being kept on him (pun intended). There is another issue though, the S.H.I.E.L.D. outpost in Chernaya has turned bad and joined the military coup, vastly increasing the muscle surrounding the target general in charge. Fury says they turned about the time he stopped getting S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘checks’, a possible spelling mistake that I was surprised to see, should have been ‘cheques’, but no one is perfect.

Now we get to the sweetener of the deal, what Frank is going to need to take on this scale of operation. The asset was reassigned to the U.S. Air Force, a fact that Fury hopes Castle will see as an insult as a former marine. He is, of course, talking about the War Machine armor. The Punisher will need to obtain this himself, with no loss of life. A task Frank effortlessly caries out, clearly motivated to get his hands on the new toy. The issue ends with Punisher suited up and flying off to start his new mission.

The art is on par with the previous run, but Frank’s face changes a little here and there throughout the issue, occasionally going for a Jon Bernthal likeness. The colors from Loughridge always capture the ambient light from the environment giving more atmosphere to the look and feel. Cory Petit’s lettering is as always giving a more animated and lively feel to carry the narrative along too.

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Bernanthal-Likenes

We also get a preview of next issue’s cover.

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Rating: 8/10

Final Thought: A pretty straightforward issue that sets up the story for things to come. With Castle now kitted up with some serious firepower, I can’t wait to see what damage he will be doing. Hopefully, we see the Punisher soaring to unfamiliar heights, but what sort of attention will this new equipment attract for the vigilante and what happens when the mission is over?

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