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.
Writer: Mathew Rosenberg
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Frank has been approached by the super spy himself, Nick Fury, and try as he might, he made Castle an offer that he couldn’t refuse. The European state of Chernaya has gone rogue, taken over by a military leader and made possible by the use of the ex S.H.I.E.L.D resources Fury had stationed there. The Punisher is the man for the job, but he needed the right hardware to even the odds, so Nick sent him in the direction of the War Machine armor.
(Warning, spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the issue)
What You’ll Find Out:
Frank lands in Chernaya on a farm about to be possessed by the Chernayan forces. They are about to execute the owner, an old man when Frank intervenes in his special way. After dispatching the targets and preparing to move on, the old man warns Frank that more soldiers will come when the others don’t return and when they find their brethren dead, will be after blood. Castle is only too happy to oblige and while he waits, he helps bury the evidence and learns that the old man is also a former soldier that settled for a ‘better’ life.
Once the bodies are dealt with, the Punisher goes about setting up a few surprises for the incoming soldiers. He tells the old man to stay in the house while he takes care of business. He easily deals with the men on foot, but a late warning from the suits A.I. regarding a tank compromises his armor. The system reboots just in time for Castle to bring the pain on these misguided drones, including the tank and retreating A.P.C. Frank finds the farmer dying after taking on a couple of soldiers who retreated into the house.
What Just Happened?
Castle’s first landing is more like a ground smash, as he is still learning how the suit works. He aims for one of the soldier’s heads at point blank with his wrist guns, only to hear a ‘click’ instead of a bang. He hasn’t figured out the weapons system just yet, but can still achieve the same outcome with the brute force of the armor, knocking the head straight off the shoulders with a swing of his fist. Throughout the issue, he also begins to learn the boundaries of the suits A.I. He finishes off the rest of the soldiers with similar tactics. After cleaning up his mess and bonding with the old man, Frank learns he is a fellow soldier that got the chance to make a choice for a different path in life. Working the land and growing rather than destroying, almost giving us a look at what Castle’s life could have been. They also discuss the new ‘uniform’ and the fact that every weapon has a safety.
Frank gets to work on making the impending battle one on his terms. He blocks roadways with trees, forcing the men to come on foot through a gasoline-soaked field. The Punisher actually gives the men a chance to take him to his target, General Petrov, but the soldiers make the wrong call and refuse.
The suits A.I. informs Frank of the neutralized threat and asks if he would like to summon medical assistance for the burning men, we all know the answer to that one. After an inquiry on their vehicle location, the suit reports back that armored transport is still stuck at the roadblock, but the tank is only meters away. For most of us, our response would probably be something like “There’s a tank? Why would you not tell me this sooner! It’s kind of a big deal!”. Castle being the battle-hardened, focused soldier merely states “You need to get better at prioritizing information” just before taking a direct hit. More conversation between Frank and the suit continues in as humorous a fashion as you could expect between a computer system and the Punisher while he cleans up the remaining threats.
The suit informs him that all remaining life signs are fading, not just the hostiles and Castle rushes to the house to find the farmer dying as he tells Frank that he could stay on the farm and pretend to be normal too. Now it’s personal, as the Punisher flies off to find his target two men wearing S.H.I.E.L.D cloaking armor are hiding in the bushes, commenting that “This will be fun” to see him come after the General.
Final Thought: To see the Punisher in the War Machine armor is probably every fan’s dream, he may not be as efficient as Rhoadey in the suit, but he is figuring it out pretty quickly. The dynamic between him and the armor’s A.I. is kinda funny but keeps the humor low key to suit the character. Rosenberg and the rest of the team must be having a ball making this. Another beautiful cover by Clayton Crain too.
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