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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I'd Buy That For A Dollar: Punisher War Journal #19

Shaka loaned me the Punisher video game for PS2 yesterday, so Frank Castle's been on my mind lately, and I've come to a conclusion: The Punisher has been in more bad comics than any other character.

It's not that there's anything wrong with the Punisher, it's just a question of numbers. Big Frank reached the height of his popularity in a little thing called The Boom, when any half-retarded troglodyte who could figure out how to hold a pencil was creating a tiny empire in a corner of the Marvel universe. With seven volumes of the Punisher under his belt, along with Punisher War Journal, Punisher War Zone, and fighting ULTIMATUM (the United Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind) in issues 6 and 7 of every Marvel comic launched in the early '90s, the odds are stacked against him.

By the way, don't get the idea that I hate the Boom. I mean, I was a kid then, so I look back on it with a lot of nostalgia. It was, after all, a time when you could go down to the local comic shop and buy the Punisher Back-to-School Special, which included a section on his favorite automatic weapons. That's the Back-to-School Special, in case you missed that.

Regardless, with a resume like that, who better to be featured in a new series on the ISB where I review comics from the dollar stock that you have to see to believe? Today's subject: Punisher War Journal #19:

KISS THAT BABY GOODBYE!(Click to Punish-Size it!)

"Trauma In Paradise"
June, 1990
Writer: Carl Potts
Pencils and Cover: Jim Lee

The Cover: I could go on about this cover for hours. First, we have the Punisher steering his jet-ski one-handed with a ridiculously large gun in the other. I'm pretty sure if he fired that thing, the jet-ski would immediately pull a 180, which is a fun idea. Also, I think that's one of the all-time best non-Kirby cover blurbs: "You just rented a jet-ski to the Punisher. KISS THAT BABY GOODBYE!" It's a blurb that goes so far as to create a fictional world in your imagination wherein you're a jet-ski rental guy, and then it totally burns you.

The Plot:
The Punisher's gone to Hawaii to save Microchip from getting his ass kicked. Micro, you might remember, is an overweight computer programmer who helped Frank out before Garth Ennis took over the book, and he's decided in this issue to take on a group of drug dealers by himself. Picture the fat guy from your company's IT department mounting a one-man commando operation against a group of hardened criminals, and you'll have a good idea of how that works out for him.

So Frank goes to keep Micro from getting killed by the dealers who kidnapped some relatives of his, hoping to do some killing of his own with the help of a local shaman (or "Kahuna," according to the story) who's there to counteract the Kahuna working with the drug runners. There's a lot of Hawaiian mysticism going on in this book, which is what leads to Micro's big plan to take out the drug dealers: He sets something on fire and then runs at them in blackface.


Needless to say, Punisher kills a lot of guys and Micro doesn't die for another few years.

The Highlights:

  • When he's hanging out with his new pal Edith the Kahuna, it's revealed that the Punisher--scourge of the criminal underworld--is afraid of water. Afraid. Of. Fucking. Water. So if you've ever wondered, yes, Aquaman would kick his ass. Needless to say, Edith helps him out, and he overcomes his fear of water later on in the story.
  • When Micro finally goes up against the drug runners, he mentions that he's using one of their own guns against them. That means that in addition to his obvious setbacks, Micro didn't even bother to bring a gun for his attempt to kill these guys.
  • Just in case you're one of those hippies who doesn't hate drug dealers, two of them argue over who gets to rape one of their captives first. The Evil Kahuna takes time out from coordinating his headband, vest, and leather pants to call them idiots and rough them up, keeping this book Code Approved.
  • The Punisher actually does rent a jet-ski in the story, but ironically, he returns it right on time and lets the renter keep the deposit while he runs off to do some more killing. What a guy!
  • Shortly after Micro fights the dealers with the power of blackface, the Punisher squares off in an epic battle with the Evil Kahuna, wherein he claims to be a god and uses "basic psychology" to freak him out before he chucks him off a cliff. Sacrilicious!
Defining Moment:
At one point in the story, the Punisher passes by a guy buying a boogie board. We get a closeup of him, along with a thought balloon that reads:
"The Punisher does not know that my mission is to guide him--to show him that he must fulfull the grand-master's last wish and become the western world's greatest ninja!"

Later he gives the Punisher the boogie board, since he's not afraid of water anymore.

Wow. The 90s. Goodbye sense, hello awesome.

So that's War Journal #19, available for a buck (or less!) at your local mega-store. Check it out, and like the last page says: "Be here in one month--when the Punisher joins the French Foreign Legion!" If that's not worth a buck, nothing is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, do you know if any of those war journal, etc are avalible in paperback (graphic novel) forum now?

6/06/2006 10:14 PM

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