Punisher vs. Rampage

We move on to the next phase of our story: the Punisher versus his tech guy Stuart Clarke.

Doesn’t sound exciting, I know.  But unlike most tech guys the Punisher hangs around with, Clarke used to be the supervillain Rampage.  Like a cool armor/weapon suit that shoots flames and lasers and stuff.  Oh, about fifteen issues before this, Castle came under the influence of some rage gas or something and strangled Clarke’s girlfriend to death.

Let’s jump into Punisher: War Journal #24-25, written by Matt Fraction and Rick Remender and drawn by Howard Chaykin.  Do you remember where we left off with the Punisher totally locked up in jail?

Not anymore.  Y’see, this arc ties in with the major Marvel event Secret Invasion.  The shape-shifting Skrull aliens have invaded Earth and the world turns into a battlefield.  Part of their military strategy involves disabling every bit of technology ever created by Tony Stark, like say, prison cells.

Oh, how Castle loves to kill things.  Some Punisher stories have him so entrenched in war and blood that when he returns from Vietnam, he almost regrets living as a family man with his loving wife and kids.  The mafia attack that slaughters his family gives him an excuse to unapologetically be himself again.  Grim conclusion, but not entirely inaccurate.

Finally, his better half arrives.

Our wonderful G. W. Bridge, SHIELD agent extraordinaire, and the one not headbutted by a giant Skrull.  The fight goes as badly as you would expect from one invincible alien versus two old men.  But because the story involves Castle and Clarke, our ex-supervillain rises from the ashes of his dusty computer hideout to burst into the fiery streets of the warring city.

And Clarke just found out about Castle’s little strangulation secret.

So Rampage ain’t the most eloquent of baddies.  But he does bring up a good point:

Look, the Punisher’s moral code is completely black and white.  No gray anywhere.  If you kill, hurt, or make innocent people suffer, you’re fair game for Castle’s gun.  He doesn’t give second chances and no one receives mercy.  And that includes tech guys, like most of the dudes he’s worked with over the years.  Luckily, a Skrull sniper takes the attention away from vengeance and gives the two geriatrics a chance to have a little chat.

Yup, another tech guy’s going down.

Punisher hates liars.  Especially liars who’ve murdered policemen.  Castle runs around with some cool guns, but Rampage has super awesome tech, like that bubble punch or whatever he uses.  Still, why does the Punisher always win?  Persistence, of course.  But more importantly, he’s not afraid to improvise.

So the Skrulls blew up the building, but did you see him rip the electrical wires out of the wall and use them to punch his buddy in the face?  Captain America wouldn’t do that.  Feel free to use that technique on any robbers.

And how does our story end?  Well, with the Punisher’s arch-nemesis Jigsaw shot to death in the previous arc, that slot’s totally open for the taking.  Application filed and noted.

Our story tomorrow jumps ahead twenty issues or so, plus it’s chock full of magic and supervillains! How could you not be excited?

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