Tag Archives: Frank Castle

Six Weeks of Punishment: Punisher 2099 by Emily Scott

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken, and welcome to Week Three of Six Weeks of Punishment, leading up to the premiere of the Punisher on Netflix’s Daredevil! (You’d think with how much shilling we’re doing for Netflix that they were paying us. Or at least giving me a free subscription. But honestly, my subscription is the $8 a month I mind parting with the least because of how much use I get out of it. And no, Netflix didn’t ask me to say that either.)

wayne-pepsi
Pepsi and Punisher 2099: It’s the Choice of a New Generation.

No, the fact of the matter is that we’re just stoked for the possibility of the Punisher being done really well on the screen, and if you knew, even slightly, this very site’s fine proprietor, Dean Compton, you’d know he needs no excuse to talk about his favorite scourge to mooks everywhere, Mr. Frank Castle. We’ve had a great time so far looking at Punisher vs. Nick Fury and Punisher vs. Batman, but today I will be looking at Punisher vs. not just any ol’ crime and corruption, but future crime and corruption in Punisher 2099.

Beginning in February of 1993, the title ran for 34 issues, which were mostly written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, with later issues penned by Chuck Dixon. Though it’s an American comic, the British influence of its authors and their work on comics like Judge Dredd is evident in its particular tone of satire and brand of dystopia. Many elements of this world, like the influence and power of the sinister corporation Alchemax, which owns the Public Eye Police Force, will nonetheless be familiar to anyone who has glimpsed into the sci-fi future. Or at the news. (I almost said “at a newspaper” until I remembered we’re enough into the future to not really have those anymore.)

Punisher 2099 was one of four initial titles in the Marvel 2099 imprint, which later expanded to include titles like  the X-Men and the Hulk. (This very site was christened with an article on the only new character of those initial four, Ravage 2099.) I will let five seconds on Wikipedia explain, if you’re really interested, which continuity is what and which world’s future the world of Marvel 2099 is because it’s convoluted and not especially pertinent to our topic at the moment. What is pertinent, what is most pertinent, is that Punisher 2099 is AWESOME.

Seriously, of all the comics I have read for this site, this is the one I had the hardest time picking a stopping point so that I could actually, you know, write the article. From the first cover, I was sold:

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 00
One-third of the Legion of Doom, Road Warrior Punisher! *entrance music*

Is it over the top? Yes. Is this comic full of ludicrous and head-shaking things? Of course. Does it sometimes teeter on the edge of self-satire? It had better. Does its greatness lie in no small part in its extremeness? Well I certainly think so. This comic is ridiculously fun and cool, and there’s no point in trying to justify it or gussy it in with any kind of analytic or pseudo-intellectual nonsense. That’s not to say it doesn’t have depth or that you can’t take some of the same messages about authority or society away that you can with, say, a movie like Dark City (we use 90s references here, people), but that’s just not where my mind focuses when reading this. The fact that there are frequent examples of legitimate social commentary is icing on the cake. A very large and flamboyant cake with, like, sparklers and moving parts and a megaphone announcing it’s time for cake.

The particular trappings of this particular vision of the future are just so great that I had to make myself start taking notes that were more than just, “That’s awesome,” over and over again. I know I’m gushing, but I don’t have anything in particular to criticize about this comic. I’m sure if you felt like rolling your eyes at some of it, you could, but if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into when you look at that cover, that’s really on you because it’s very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get scenario in an incredibly unsubtle way.

I also had to stop myself from including just about every page because the art (penciled by Tom Morgan, inked by Jim Palmiotti, and colored by Ian Laughlin), is no less top notch. I read the entire thing from page one with a huge grin. Seriously, from page one:

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 01
Need some ice for that burn, Mr. Sanchez? We’ll send it….this Friday.

Already, what’s not to like? If that weren’t great enough, this is page two:

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 02
There is nothing I could say in this caption that is possibly greater than “‘Mean Mule’ Turbo Kick-Boots.”

The Street Surgeons, despite being sort of horrifying for most people who aren’t the Punisher, put up about as much of a fight as you’d expect, and we quickly learn a couple things about our future crime fighter. First, despite his high tech arsenal of Plasto-Armor and ‘Mean Mule’ Turbo Kick-Boots (any excuse to say it), he still uses regular bullets to put holes in people. Second, no matter the incarnation, the Punisher doesn’t have that name for nothing.

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 05
I know I can’t be the only one who would love that manual, complete with helpful Ikea-style illustrations, to be supplemental material to this comic.

The Public Eye Police Force is peeved at the Punisher, not because he is, you know, murdering people or anything, but because he is giving away freebies, and “Special Operations” Agent Jake Gallows is called in to investigate the menace. As you might be able to guess from that incredibly subtle name or the fact that a cop being brought in to investigate himself feels like a common trope (even though I can’t think of an example off the top of my head), Jake Gallows won’t have any harder a time investigating the Punisher than Peter Parker would getting a picture of Spider-Man.

The Punisher may no longer be Frank Castle, but if there is one thing these two men have in common, other than a hatred of criminals and disturbingly large pectorals, it’s their need to display a skull somewhere on their person as much as humanly possible.

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 08
Road Warrior Punisher’s greatest opponent, Future Goldust.

The skull comes courtesy of a face scrambler, and as amazing as it is, it still manages to be the second coolest bit of technology on this page, after the geri-toxin Future Goldust receives as a sentence, apparently without trial, for straight up murdering 15 people. Or maybe it’s for being a techno-shaman, which sounds like everything awful about ravers and hippies all rolled into one person. Regardless, this isn’t the only way crime is sentenced differently in the world of Marvel 2099 than in our own. For instance, Kron Stone, the guy who kills this Punisher’s family, is charged 2.2 mega dollars for the crime, an amount he claims is less than the cost of his suit. I mean, where do these writers come up with this stuff? What a ludicrous idea, a world where rich criminals don’t really get punished! Good thing it’s just a comic book. *uncomfortable laughter*

Stone, the son of a bigwig at Alchemax, isn’t just any old rich criminal daddy’s boy, though. That would be far too mundane for Punisher 2099. No, Stone, is certifiable, killing happy families, believing them to be liars, because there can be no such thing as a happy family. After taking out Gallows’ mother, brother, and sister-in-law with what appears to be an insta-cancer gun, Stone refuses to kill Gallows himself because he is no longer a family and therefore of no consequence to him. (You’d think you maybe wouldn’t save for last the only member of this family who already looks like a criminal killing vigilante, but I might be looking for logical decisions in the wrong place.)

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 17
We get it; you’re a psychology major. You have it all figured out. *eye roll*

After the sentencing, Gallows returns home to the massive arsenal he has assembled, the most important item of which, even more than that sweet jet pack, is the diary of Frank Castle. It charges whoever finds it to carry on his work, so lucky for him it ended up in the hands of someone else who also just happened to have his entire family murdered in front of him, amirite? Actually, what I find most interesting about Gallows’s connection to Castle is that Castle’s “work” seemingly spoke to him before his family was murdered, with that event acting as the final catalyst to turn him into another incarnation of the Punisher. Castle and Gallows are very similar, one might argue too similar, but their biggest similarity appears to be that their great personal tragedies only unlocked a dormant black and white sense of justice within them both rather than causing it.

The Punisher 2099 #001 - 22
At least Castle died doing what he loved.

After saying goodbye to his family with a Viking funeral officiated by a pretty good Thor cosplayer at the coolest looking church ever…

Pun2099-02-02
ComicCon in 2099 must be insane.

…Gallows tracks down Stone at an amusement park, where the latter is attempting to kill a ride’s worth of children because in his mind, it’s better for them than sending them home to their parents. The children are floating in a No-Grav Ring, and a fight over the controls leaves one child outside of the ring’s safety. Of course, this chain of circumstances leads to the classic hero conundrum whether to save the innocent or go after the bad guy, but Stone and Gallows discuss whether he has time to save him for so long it seems like the kid would have splatted to the ground already no matter how much gravity there is. In the end Gallows makes the catch, of course, but Stone makes his getaway in the most obnoxious manner possible.

Pun2099-02-10
It’s guys like this who kinda make you get where a guy like the Punisher is coming from.

Gallows is even more resolved to take down Stone and everyone else who believes they are above punishment, a couple of whom we are briefly introduced to. Their names, along with the names of some of their crimes, are enough to make me excited for future issues. We meet the Fearmaster of Alchemax, who tells Under-Capo Multi Fractor of the Cyber Nostra that they will have to increase revenue by 20%, which means they will have to expand into total reality drugs and holo-porn clubs. (Does any part of that sentence not make you want to read more?) This comes directly after the Fearmaster telling Police Commissioner Bennelli that he expects a 20% decrease in crime in return for their sponsorship. Seems like the Punisher will have no trouble keeping himself busy, but the upside is it will constantly sound badass as hell to explain.

Of course, now that his family is gone, there isn’t anyone to explain much of anything to, except his Microchip analog, Matt Axel, who helps Gallows fill his empty home by building him a huge, terrifying torture prison. I suppose this is a good sort of friend to have if you plan on being an unstoppable vigilante and a bad sort of friend to have if you are literally anyone else. Even the unstoppable vigilante might think twice about angering the guy who gifts invisible, armed 800 mph motorcycles.

Pun2099-02-17
You’re not happy about it? “Listen, I’ll make you an unstoppable killing machine and build you your own black site, but even I have limits.”

Now that he’s fully tricked out, Gallows is ready to take on Stone, who, when cornered, gives us a sob story that I think is best heard from the source:

Pun2099-02-22

That story encapsulates everything that is great about this comic. On the one hand, it’s not outlandish to think that we will one day, not long in the future, live in a world where children do get abused by their robot nannies, and it says plenty of things about society and people that are worth reflecting on. On the other – yo, that story is HILARIOUS. It’s so over the top in the best way that I’m all the more on board with the Punisher doing something I wouldn’t especially be ok with if it were really happening. Oftentimes art set in a dytopian future, no matter how entertaining, can be depressing, not because it warns us about what’s to come but because it reminds us of the way things already are. While reading Punisher 2099, it was more, “Well, yeah, corporations control everything and police are corrupt and, sure, the rich can basically do whatever they want, but damn, if I could do some total reality drugs and go on the No-Grav Ring, maybe I wouldn’t mind so much! Everything and everyone is amazing!”

I can’t tell if that means I’m taking the comic too seriously or not seriously enough, but it’s irrelevant. I loved it, and I hope you do too because I fully intend to look at more of this insanity in the future! To entice you further, I’ll leave you with the cover of the third issue, which previews what I can only imagine is the equipment so scary even Matt Axel sort of put his foot down. I also hope you haven’t had enough punishment because we still have three weeks to go, continuing later this week with Dean Compton taking a look at Marvel Super Action #1 over at the fabulous Longbox Graveyard!

The Punisher 2099 #003 - 00
Wow, the dad from Modern Family has really beefed up.

 

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Six Weeks of Punishment: Over the Edge Podcast!

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken! It’s an exciting time here at The Unspoken Decade as we gear up for our very own Dean Compton’s favorite character to make a first appearance on Netflix’s Daredevil! And no, folks, I’m not talking about Elektra. It’s none other than Mr. Frank Castle, the one and certainly the only, Punisher. And what better way to get psyched for his debut than Six Weeks of Punishment?

This weekend Mr. Compton will bring you Punisher and Batman: Deadly Knights, and I, Emily Scott, will take a look at Punisher 2099 shortly after that. We are kicking off Six Weeks of Punishment, though, with the event that launched the short-lived Marvel Edge imprint, Over the Edge, a showdown of Castle versus Nick Fury that includes Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, and Hulk’s titles. Take a listen to mine and Dean’s podcast below, take a look at some sweet very 90s covers, and take another trip back to the Unspoken Decade this weekend for more punishment. For the next six weeks, we’re all gluttons.

It’s the Most Punishing Time of the Year!-Punisher Holiday Special #1

Hello, Legions of the Unspoken!  Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate!  If you hate the season, I hope you are making it through as best you can! Emily sure did a fantastic job yesterday with her look at the Marvel Holiday Special from 1992!  Make sure you take a gander at it right here!

Emily mentioned this in her article yesterday, but it is really important to remember that many folks don’t have a great time during the holiday season.  Try and spare a kind word for them, and when it comes to food charity, I encourage you to not only give during the holidays, but it would be swell if you could give during the entire year when you can.  People ain’t just hungry at Christmas.

Many comic book characters also do not have a particularly swell time during Christmas, although most have a bad time for reasons other than hunger.  Characters like Batman or Punisher don’t care for Christmas for obvious reasons and reasons many in the real world can relate to as well.  Having lost family can put a damper on the whole holiday thing.

Which is why it is sort of surprising that Marvel put out three Punisher Holiday specials, and he was prominently featured in several Marvel Holiday Specials in the 90’s as well.  The other side of that, though, is that Punisher was so popular then that they milked him for everything he was worth.  There were Punisher Summer and Back to School Specials as well during this time, which also don’t seem like prime specials to be propped up by a psychopathic serial killer like Frank Castle.

But that doesn’t mean that this Holiday special has to be bad.  In fact, the opposite is very much true.  Thanks to the hard work of the creators involved with this special, we have a lot of fun.  The first story is a little like the movie Die Hard in that there is lots of action with the trappings of Christmas permeating the background.  Also, since this is the 90’s, the special has a gimmick cover.

Stephen (why it isn’t spelled Steven as it should be is a mystery that the world may never know the answer to) Grant writes this fun tale, where we get introduced the world’s whiniest mobster.

That mob guy sort of looks like he could be Murderface's cousin.  You don't know who Murderface is?  For shame, good sir, for shame.
That mob guy sort of looks like he could be Murderface’s cousin. You don’t know who Murderface is? For shame, good sir, for shame.

Well, the good news is that apparently even mobsters celebrate Christmas.  The bad news is that they have no idea how it is done.  Little Tony sounds like such a whiny little douche.  We all know someone like him, right?  Someone who always gets their way and then the first time they don’t, they wind up making you go deaf from their ability to alternate between screams so shrill they could pierce the dimensional barrier and whines so pathetic that they almost create their own emo albums.  One could only assume that all of these qualities would only be worse in the son of a prominent mob boss.

So, these guys set up a plan to ambush Punisher, which he learns about from a drug dealer who appears to have stepped straight out of the Chick tract, The Gay Blade.  Don’t get that reference?  Well, you can see this work of hilarious hate right here, but compare the following two images and tell me that the guy Punisher is squeezing for information would look out of place at all next to these two:

As an extra I left in Lambda being a "gay symbol" so that you can be on the lookout.  Man,m those Chick Tract folks are nuts...and entertainingly so!
That lady is reacting like a zombie is going reaching up for her in a Tales from the Crypt comic.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 4

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 5

So now that Punisher has dealt with this hippie drug dealer, he has to head to the mall to cut off this plan.  Something tells me that the meeting between Punisher and these mooks won’t be quite the same experience as the one I had playing this board game with my little sister.

This game is brutal, and we still play it every now and again.  Why?  Because we hate ourselves.
This game is brutal, and we still play it every now and again. Why? Because we hate ourselves.

The only problem with this plan by Punisher is that Little Tony’s mooks are actually in control of the mall, which seems ludicrous.  I love it.  When it comes to Christmas Action-Adventure stories, they have to take place at the mall or a Santa theme park.  For these stories to work, they almost need Christmas decorations saturating the edges and the background.  That way, we never forget that it is Christmas, but we also don’t have to have the main characters addressing it all the time.

The bad guys apparently feel like they were REALLY BAD this year, and Anti-Santa must have noticed, as they are quite gleeful that Punisher is walking into their mall-trap.  We as readers know that a criminal being happy over luring the Punisher to them would be the same as a mouse being ecstatic that it had lured a cat to it.  That doesn’t stop these guys, though.

Also, Punisher mulls the evolution of mankind.  I can't tell if he thinks we have come a long way or if he thinks we are too far behind, but I can totally tell he hates the mall, which might be the last human quality Punisher has.
Also, Punisher mulls the evolution of mankind. I can’t tell if he thinks we have come a long way or if he thinks we are too far behind, but I can totally tell he hates the mall, which might be the last human quality Punisher has.

Punisher ditches his bag and sets himself up in proper position to stop the robbery he has been informed about.  The mooks put their plan in motion as Punisher has one of those Admiral Ackbar moments; you know the one.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 8

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 9

it-s-a-trap

Man, I am unsure why that joke never gets old to me, but it never does.  That will stay funny even after it gets ruined in the new Star Wars movies coming out.  Or it gets elevated into new heights of grandeur.  Those were the only two positions people took on the internet about them.  But I digress.

With the trap set and Punisher dead in the middle of it, he starts putting on his awesome gloves and taking care of business.  Using some small arms fire (because the bad guys took the bag he stashed) and an ingenious car trap, he manages to take out a few of the mooks encroaching on him. They do manage to wound Castle.  He also gets to drive one of those mall display cars IN THE MALL, which is just another of many reasons that despite being a bloodthirsty and psycopathic serial killer, Punisher is more awesome than anything else.  Don’t deny it; you’ve always wanted to drive one of those cars in the mall.  Hell, the fact that this dream might come true for any of us might be the sole reason to keep malls open in the Amazon age.

Things get complicated when the bad guys happen upon a runaway at the mall, who they momentarily hold hostage.  Punisher offs a mook (Most of these mooks are dressed as mall security guards, by the by, which sort of precludes them as mooks, right?) which enables her to get away…and in Punisher’s way.

Isn’t there always a runaway at Christmas?  Don’t they always mess everything up before it gets saved?  Maybe I am just superimposing that girl from Ernest Saves Christmas into every Christmas movie, but man, it seems like a trope that gets in just in time for Christmas, sort of like  your uncle.  Point being, though, that this young lady is now caught in this death trap with Punisher, which bodes well for neither of them.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 14 309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 15309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 16

Punisher shows us exactly why he went into vigilantism instead of counseling, as his only consolation for this teenager runaway victim of some sort of domestic abuse is to let her know that he would rue killing her.  Of course, while she sees what she has been doing as surviving, Frank Castle may only see it as stealing.  This is the black and white viewpoint that makes Punisher so fascinating to me, even if he is the most unlikely character to get a Christmas special this side of Anton Lavey.

Also, somehow, the head mook just makes me laugh so much as he blows away his own mall with weapons he and his men do not understand, planning to recoup his loss thanks to insurance.  I mean, I am sure I am not spoiling anything by letting you know that does not happen, as there is a Punisher:  Holiday Special #2, but no The Mook Who Killed Punisher Holiday Special.  I also love how these hardcore security guards also do not seem to understand most of his armory, which seems basic to me.  They’re grenades, guys.  You’re welcome.

Of course, the seminal moment of the book happens as Punisher is running low on weapons, ammo, and in addition to his munitions shortfall issues, he has been wounded again.  This forces improvisation that leads to what is arguably the greatest moment in both Punisher and Christmas history.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 18
When you see the reindeer appearing on the horizon in the dark, does it remind you of that meme where the deer is looking in the window with the macros “SOON” across it? Oh you don’t know that? Never mind.

Yes, Punisher killed someone with a toy reindeer.  That canon, folks.

Punisher sends the young runaway to the car he crashed earlier as he attempts to deal with the other mooks.  Believe it or not, she gets captured as Frank Castle deals with a henchman whose reputation he knows.  Of course, Castle is still in improvisation mode, so we see a use for hardware that I am sure is not approved by Home Depot.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 22

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 24
While Home Depot may not approve of use of a a saw in such a manner, I must say that S-Mart from Evil Dead most certainly does.

Punisher also manages to distract these mooks with one of the greatest and oldest tricks in the book, as these hardcore henchmen just seem to falter left and right in the wake of Punisher’s unyielding onslaught.  Maybe it is because they are dressed as mall security guards, as such an unimposing position would surely cause one to lose one’s edge.  Or maybe Punisher is just so bad ass that he can use trees as hang gliders.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 25
Best use of a dummy since Mannequin 2: On the Move.
309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 26
Check out that one mook/mall cop who went GANGSTA by turning that hat around. You’re cool, bro.

That leaves Punisher, the runaway, and the head mook in the mall, and as I spoiled for you earlier, one of these three doesn’t make it out alive.  You can guess which one it is.  As far as the young runaway, she returns home, just as Pat Benatar did in her “Love is a Battlefield” video, as both of these stalwart runaways valiantly battled evil, although Pat Benatar never got to team up with Punisher, although that is a team-up I would read.  I’d especially be down for that team-up if they fought Nazis like Pat Benatar did in “Shadows of the Night”.  Man, for a 90’s comic book blog, I sure have talked about 80’s videos a lot in this paragraph.

Also, to make sure that all is well that ends well, Little Tony gets a present after all. Santa Claus ain’t the one that brings it, though.

309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 31 309 The Punisher - Holiday Special #1 - Page 33

Hey, you got a present here too!  I’d like to think it is slightly better than Little Tony’s, although that’s really up to you!  Be here Monday for The Golden Age #4!  Merry Christmas, everybody!