The Punisher is at his lowest point. Homeless, penniless, gun-less. But none of this changes the fact that he’s got his sights aimed squarely on the most powerful man in the country: the Kingpin of Crime. Fearing for his life and paranoid, the Kingpin brings in a new bodyguard, the best money can buy: a hard-as-nails woman going by the name of Elektra.
Following the events of the previous arc, The Punisher has escaped from jail and is back on the streets, ready to resume his war on crime, despite being stripped of his arsenal. This arc makes a heavy emphasize on the fact that the Punisher is old. There’s a sequence where we see him in several conflicts with various criminals and law enforcement officers, as his narration reveals how things have changed for him. It’s not just the physical limitations that he faces as he gets older, but the perception. He talks about how criminals used to run from him, but now “they stand and fight. They hunt me as much as I hate them.” Now every dime-store hood wants to be the man who finally caps the Punisher. But still, he refuses to stop. In particular, the Punisher still has one major target: Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin.
Knowing that The Punisher will be after him, The Kingpin hires a new bodyguard, a mysterious Asian woman known only as Elektra. Much like with Bullseye, since this is set in the “real world”, Elektra is not quite the superhuman ninja she’s usually portrayed as in mainstream Marvel comics, but she is incredibly skilled. But in addition to hiring her, The Kingpin also stays holed up in his impregnable tower. The problem is, this gives off the impression that he’s afraid, and he begins to lose his hold on the criminal empire that he sacrificed so much to obtain. And when The Punisher sets a trap that basically forced The Kingpin to come to meet him, we get the final battle.
That’s right, I said FINAL battle. This is it. The End. The last adventure of Frank Castle, The Punisher. Yes, I’m giving away the biggest spoiler of all. But after brutal last fights with Elektra and then with Kingpin himself, Frank Castle collapses and dies. And this is no comic-book death, no disappearing in an explosion or any other possible cop-out. We see the body.
I feel comfortable revealing that spoiler because it’s the story leading up to his death which is most interesting. Not to mention what happens after. That’s right, the death isn’t really end of the story, that happened in the 2nd-to-last issue, and the above image is how the final issue opens. Nick Fury reappears and he narrates the final issue, and we see an examination of the life of Frank Castle and what kind of impact he really had. In the back-matter Jason Aaron reveals that this was the story he had in mind from the minute he was given this job. And that’s why I’ve chosen to review these volumes because collectively this run is the perfect last adventure of The Punisher, I’d compare it The Dark Knight Returns and Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow in terms of the way it perfectly wraps up this character’s story. And Steve Dillon was the perfect artist to draw this series, as he was there at the beginning.
Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS