THE PUNISHER versus RHINO
How I Won the War Part 3: Mutually Assured Destruction (Marvel comics)
Where: Punisher War Journal #3 When: March 2007
Why: Matt Fraction How: Ariel Olivetti
The story so far...
The Punisher is back in the thick of things, and he's ready to bust some face of super villain scum once more.
Under the care of Stuart Clarke, Punisher recovers from the severe beating Punisher received at the hands of Captain America, after he shot two unarmed villains sympathetic to the anti-hero registration act.
Conscious after four days of recovery, Frank Castle finds himself held up in a SHIELD armory with a slew of weapons an intelligence at his disposal. Intelligence that points directly toward the hideouts and movements of criminals throughout the city. First top -- Rhino's place...
The Punisher: Punisher has not yet been featured.
Rhino: Rhino has not yet been featured.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Rhino 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Punisher 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Rhino 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Rhino 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Punisher 2 (Average Human)
Fighting Ability: Punisher 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Punisher 4 (Arsenal)
Punisher is a half-crazed Vietnam vet with an uncanny knack for getting hold of copious amounts of weaponry and corresponding ammunition.
Rhino is a really big guy trapped in a super hi-tech suit that gives him strength and stamina enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk or even the Juggernaut.
This really is about as open and shut as it gets, folks.
Of course, we all know that these sorts of scenarios have their flipsides no matter how much they defy logic. The key to victory for The Punisher is that innate ability to come up with some big-time weaponry.
An elephant gun might not quite get the job done against the super-hide of the Rhino, but you can bet your bottom dollar that SHIELD has something cooked up especially for Rhino. Not to mention the high grade super-weaponry other organizations in the Marvel Universe probably have. It's not like Rhino's the only level 6 going around.
The overwhelming advantage is in the fact that Rhino can withstand most punishment long enough to potentially make a knock-out charge. Not that that really happens all that often... Certainly not these days. Actually, the guy's become something of a joke, really... Hmmm... I blame poachers.
Poachers and Ralph Macchio.
Not the karate kid, the editor.
The Math: The Punisher (Champion Class)
The Pick: Rhino
What went down...
Having used the SHIELD intelligence to track the Rhino to a warehouse hideout, Punisher makes the tactical decision to burn the place down before announcing his arrival.
When the rampaging Rhino heads out for answers, Punisher is well prepared with a super lightweight SHIELD cannon designed to be as light as plastic.
Rhino takes the heat point blank, sustaining damage to the suit as he's hurled backward through a solid concrete wall.
Lying amidst the rubble and carnage, he has the misfortune of knowing his fate before it happens. The Punisher dons a read glove dubbed the "Satan CLaw," which grants him power of the punch enough to physically send Rhino hurtling through yet another wall, out into the street at large.
With the road turn up beneath him, rolled like a carpet, Rhino remains dumbfounded by the attack. Punisher tells him to stay down, and given the beat down Rhino doesn't have much choice in the matter.
On his ass, Rhino asks his attacker his identity, and with the smoking rubble behind him, Frank Castle invites the Rhino to take a close look himself.
The giant death's head emblem dawns on Rhino, and although he thought him dead, he realises he has been felled by The Punisher.
Castle gets up nice and close all up in Rhino's grille and makes clear and sure that he'll tell all the other super-criminals on the streets to reset their clocks -- because The Punisher is alive and well, and back to destroy the super villains of the Marvel Universe.
I like to try to keep this a family website, but... Fuck yeah~!
The Punisher debuts on Secret Earths with an unlikely victory over the mountain of muscle that regularly gives Spider-man trouble! And if you don't like it, you can probably kiss his cannon, I imagine...
Interesting to note, and it seems to be an occasional trend, that Rhino seems to have popped up in various titles. He's here, in a new issue of Sensational Spider-man, in the next issue of Cable & Deadpool, and I'm pretty sure I spotted him on the cover of Marvel Adventures Spidey! Interesting!
So, you may have noticed my reluctance to refer to this as The Punisher's return to the Marvel Universe. The powers-that-be, much like many fans, seem to have resigned to the fact that books published under the MAX imprint are all but isolated to their own canon, irregardless of connections to other characters.
Personally, being fond of the MAX Punisher, I like to think it can still work on a level that simply removes Punisher from the super criminal element.
Consider it, after twenty years of dealing with super-crime, a vacation into something that matters. MAX Punisher being the journey of The Punisher into making a real difference to real people, in a way only he can do.
With the Civil War, sure, he felt it necessary to come back to kick the butts of the criminals who were going unchecked because of the hero's in-fighting, but that doesn't mean we need to completely disregard the fantastic stuff going on elsewhere.
Actually, while I can understand the joy of the 'purists,' I'm even kinda disappointed they went back to the more costumed version with the white boots and gloves. I kinda like the evolution to a more subdued, hyper-realistic look to The Punisher. A guy in a trenchcoat and sweatshirt. Why not?
Either way it is pretty sweet having the big P back in the action.
Especially when it involves hardcore action with guys like Stilt-Man and Rhino. That's just really cool. In fact, the only thing that could possibly make this cooler is if the P-man starts dealing with these guys on a more regular basis in strategic combat.
Yes, this brings us back to Winick's Batman, Brubaker's Daredevil, and even my fabled Namor pitch. But tell me it wouldn't be totally bad ass to check The Punisher strategizing in urban warfare against the organized elements of guys like Tombstone, Hammerhead, Sabretooth, Shocker, Deadpool, Bullseye... All these so-called guns for hire, who never seem to actually live up to that role in the world outside of the story listing their appearance in that context.
Of course, if this advice is taken... My Sub-Mariner pitch is totally sunk, so... Y'know... Maybe don't listen to me. At least where The Punisher's concerned.
If you wanna drop the Sub-mariner in that world, then sure. Call me...
Who is Matt Fraction? Well, honestly, I haven't had a lot to do with him prior to this (and I haven't been able to get a hold of Immortal Iron Fist), but it would appear he's the latest talent Marvel have invested in. His previous work must have been decent, because the grooming process has been thrown out the window as he heads up two high-profile projects. And you'd think even friendship could get you only so far where sales are concerned!...
Olivetti? Also someone I've had nothing to do with, but wow!
This presumably CG painted style is something I think we're going to continue to see more and more of in comics, and really, it's not too bad. Olivetti probably holds on to organic motion a little better than an Adi Granov, but there's still room for growth.
A little disappointed that the tussle with Rhino was so brief, and really felt very much tacked on behind flashbacks relating to scenes from the core Civil War book. If it wasn't so dramatic, this would've been relegated to being a quick fix for the Punch-Up. Still, it is forgivable given that the title is War Journal...
I mean, who documents every detail of their day in a journal? You go to the good bits, and the action. Fair enough, guys.
The Fight: 3 The Issue: 5.5