Sunday, December 07, 2008

Punisher: War Zone hit screens to mixed reviews on December 5.
The third attempt at bringing the character to the big screen, this time around the hook was bringing together the references of the 2004 movies, with the penchant for violence and urbana seen in the 1989 version.

If you've been a long time reader of the Infinite Wars, you know Punisher isn't exactly at the centre of our demographic. Though undoubtedly valued as a combative character, I spent most of my younger years a little baffled by the popularity of a guy shooting guns in a world of amazing powers. In my later years I've come to accept and quite enjoy the subtlties the character is capable of, particularly in an era that has been somewhat distanced from the mindless skullduggery of the nineties.

My connection to the character has typically been through other heroes, such as much loved appearances in the late eighties Amazing Spider-man under David Michelinie and Erik Larsen, and issues of What if?, a title where the character seemed to flourish. This is the theme peppered through our small handful of Punisher spotlights, which you'll find following, arranged for your convenience.

What if...? #24 (April 1991)
"What if... Wolverine had become Lord of Vampires?" Thomas/Lofficier/Morgan

When the X-Men battled the menace of Count Dracula, it was only the strength of character of Ororo Monroe, Storm, who had been possessed by the fiend, that saved the lives of the mutant team. But what if Storm had remained under Dracula's spell?

In a world where just that has happened, Dracula finds more than he bargained for when he returns to raise the defeated X-Men from the dead.

Wolverine proves too strong a will for Dracula contain, and ultimately slays him, making the X-Man the new lord of vampires. Having mastered the powers of the vampire, Wolverine and his vampires go on the rampage. They declare into their number heroes and villains alike, whilst destroying anyone who is deemed a potential threat -- including Dr. Strange, who falls at the hands of the Juggernaut.

Though dead, Strange remains in his astral, and recruits one of the last 'super' humans alive to his cause: Frank Castle -- The Punisher.

What if...? #51 (July 1993)
"What if the Punisher had become Captain America?" Furman/Cullins

In our world, blinded, Captain America was able to survive a brutal encounter with the Red Skull through luck and determination, but throughout the omniverse there are other worlds where he was not so fortunate.

Alive but mortally wounded, Steve Rogers demands there be a replacement in the Cap costume during the period of his recuperation. Thus, the search for a suitable substitute begins. Many men try and fail!

Astronaut John Jameson succumbs to a spell whilst in space, becoming a Man-Wolf; Robert Diamond dies at the hands of Count Nefaria; the gamma-irradiated Leonard Samson loses his mind in battle, and kills innocent civilians; and Kyle Richmond falls victim to the vampiric Baron Blood.

With his family caught in a gang-land crossfire, Frank Castle, having initial turned down the offer, now turns to the flag. As Captain America he will battle evil, but will this symbol for justice be enough for the unhinged ex-soldier?

Daredevil #65 (November 2004)
"The Universe" Bendis/Hester/Parks

For years Matthew Murdock has lived a dual life as a blind lawyer by day and Hell's Kitchen's guardian vigilante, Daredevil. His struggles to rid the city of violence and crime pit him against Wilson Fisk - the Kingpin of crime - and his army of minions, in a personal struggle.

With his life careening out of control, Daredevil makes a stand against the villains that threaten his loved ones, stepping up to the Kingpin's grand plan to finally undo him with equal force. After beating his way through the Kingpin's Generals, finally he topples the mastermind himself, throwing his broken body at the feet of the city. A warning. A message. A declaration of Daredevil as the new Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen.

When Daredevil consults with his many allies throughout the Marvel Universe, he is greeted with varying levels of acceptance. The most uncompromising opposition comes from a man that he has been at odds with before - Frank Castle - a man who witnessed his bold coup. A man who intends to punish him as the new Kingpin.

Punisher War Journal #3 (March 2007)
"Mutually Assured Destruction" Fraction/Olivetti

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...

New Avengers #35 (December 2007)
"The Trust" Bendis/Yu

Parker Robbins, aka; The Hood; has begun a quest to become the kingpin of supercriminals, and with Earth's mightiest heroes divided after the civil war, and harboring suspicions of a Skrull incursion; his success rate is high.

After suffering a brutal defeat at the hands of the Avenger, Tigra; underworld stalwart and longtime Punisher adversary, Jigsaw, finds an invitation waiting for him, after an adrenaline fuelled getaway. Tired of his many defeats, the hideously scarred hitman ventures out to become part of the Hood's organization.

As a show of power to the heroes, and a gesture of good faith to the pledging Jigsaw; the Hood turns his many powers to seeking out Greer Grant, better known as registered Initiative agent; Tigra. Privvy to a great many secrets, the aspiring kingpin of supercrime has no trouble locating the feline fatale, and sets out to exact retribution.

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