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Punisher #218: Review

Nov 2017
Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova

Story Name:

Punisher: War Machine part 1

Review & Comments

4 stars

Punisher #218 Review by (December 2, 2017)
This Marvel Legacy series starts with #218, but it's not obvious what constituted the previous 217 issues. The Punisher Central site has come up with a way to get the right number but they're far from convinced it makes sense. Marvel hasn't declared it's own definition.
For the record the PC count includes the Punisher series for 1987 (104 issues), 1995 (18), 2009 (16, ignoring the 5 issue Franken-Castle continuation), 2011 (16), 2014 (20) and 2016 (17). They discount the 2000 and 2001 Marvel Knights series and the 2004 MAX series. But to get the right number they have to add the 2007 Punisher War Journal (26 issues) - but not other PWJ series. And they have to ignore the initial 1986 5-issue mini-series. And of course some other series like Punisher War Zone. (Note that Marvel Wiki appends the new issues to the ignored 5-issue run, while comicbookdb just adds them to the latest 2016 series.)

This is included in the Iron Man Library because it is the start of a storyline with Frank Castle as War Machine. Or at least wearing the WM armour.

Punisher and Nick Fury Jr were both most recently in Secret Empire: Omega. Before that Punisher was in SE itself working for the 'bad' Captain America and Hydra because he believed in Cap. In Omega he was fighting Hydra Agents in an attempt to redeem himself. And Fury was watching him, planning this meeting.

The War Machine armour was of course previously worn by James Rhodes, who died fighting Thanos in Civil War II #1.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Punisher #218 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We begin in Red Hook, Brooklyn as Punisher interrupts a deal selling arms to Chernayans by sending them the head of a guard with a grenade in his mouth. He drops a very large crate on the dealers and finishes off the buyers by blowing up their ship.

Returning to his battlevan he finds Nick Fury Jr waiting for him. Nick invites him for Dim Sum and takes him to a restaurant where they greet Fury as Mr Odinson and take them through the kitchens to a back room with a simple table and 2 chairs. Nick asks Frank Castle to sit down and enjoy the best egg drop soup in Brooklyn.

But Castle cuts to the chase - what does Fury want? The ex-SHIELD Agent wants to offer him a job. Flipping up his eyepatch he uses his cybernetic eye to display relevant images as he tells him about recent events in Chernaya. A military coup has deposed President Zawadski and now the army is purging opposition. He plays on Frank's origin (losing his wife and kids to mob warfare) by pointing out that the 'opposition' includes their families. Punisher has just stopped the Chernayan army getting advanced weapons, but maybe he would like to strike at the head rather than the limbs of the enemy.

Castle says the soup's good but asks why Fury has come to him? Fury says SHIELD is now defunct (since bad Captain America used it in Secret Empire). I don't know who he works for now but he claims to be tied up in red tape. So he wants Frank to go in and kill General Armand Petrov, the head of the coup. An extra problem is that the SHIELD Agents in Chernaya have gone over to Petrov with all *their* advanced weapons. Castle thinks Fury just wants *that* situation cleaned up before he gets blamed for it. Nick admits that there's always more than 1 angle to anything.

But he sweetens the deal by offering Frank a weapon of his own. Castle just has to get hold of it. We hear the rest of his explanation as we see Punisher execute the heist.

When SHIELD was disbanded the Government took all their stuff and shared it out between the Armed Forces (and maybe other organisations). As an ex-Army man Fury is aggrieved that they gave this particular 'toy' to the Air Force. And as an ex-Marine he thinks Frank will share his opinion. He wants Punisher to retrieve it from them, but he has certain conditions. Castle mustn't kill any US military. If he's detected he must abandon the mission - he can't be caught because this mission is as unsanctioned as it gets. And when he's finished the job Fury wants the weapon back.

Punisher does invade the Air Force base stealthily, and only renders guards unconscious where he has to. But at some point he has to attack some guards face on and they hit an alarm before he gets past them. But does he give up? - no he doesn't because he's in the weapon vault he wanted. He ignores stuff on display and opens a metal cabinet.

Next we see guards outside blowing the vault door open. And Punisher comes out wearing the War Machine armour. (Big build-up to a big surprise! Unless you ignore the  issue title and the cover image.) He blasts an exit through the roof, again without harming anybody. But we get an indication that he has no intention of giving the armour to Nick Fury anytime.

The issue ends with the required Marvel Legacy 3-page primer, with the usual editor Darren Shan and writer Robbie Thompson. The artist is Matt Horak and the colourist Chris O'Halloran. It uses this issue's letterer Cory Petit.

It covers the origin of Punisher. Marine vet Frank Castle and his family see a gangland execution while on a picnic in Central Park. The executioners try to kill the witnesses but Frank survives and becomes the vigilante Punisher.

We see his vocation bringing him into conflict with more law-abiding super-heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil.

Guiu Vilanova
Guiu Vilanova
Lee Loughridge
Clayton Crain (Cover Penciler)
Clayton Crain (Cover Inker)
Clayton Crain (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Jake Thomas.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Nick Fury Jr. (Marcus Johnson), War Machine (Frank Castle).

> Punisher: Book info and issue index

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