by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Nathan Edmondson with Art by Mitch Gerads and Brent Schoonover
In the opening pages of Punisher 17, Frank Castle mentions that the criminals he takes on are the ones who are too small for the superheroes but too big for the police. That midsection is definitely his usual hunting ground, but it sure is fun as hell to watch him take on the big guys every now and then.
Frank Castle is an anti-hero, and as an anti-hero he has more flaws than most superheroes, but hubris isn’t one of them. He realizes when he’s outmatched and it’s in these desperate David versus Goliath battles that we get The Punisher at his most compelling. The fact that he even does battle with Captain America is extraordinary, though he does suggest that it’s less of a willingness to do battle and more of
an inability to do anything but fight. It’s a trait he shares with characters like Wolverine, fight or flight at its most basic. And even when Castle chooses flight, he’s usually fighting along the way.
The Punisher versus Captain America works because most readers (I assume) can relate a little with both characters. It goes without saying that Captain America is the more noble of the two, but when he accuses Castle of being a crimal, Castle reminds us that he only looks that way from one side of the law. From the other side, the seedier side, he’s just as much of a hero as Captain America, Spider-Man, you name it.
Punisher 17 shines a bright light on the differences between The Punisher and the rest of the Marvel heroes. Of course the conversation is one-sided, simply because we get to read Castle’s thoughts, but it still serves a nice reminder that the Punisher is far from perfect. He gets too involved, in over his head, taking on tasks better suited for others. Neither character “defeats” the other, nor does Castle surrender, but instead he forces an understand, one that even Captain America can’t argue with. Nathan Edmondson continues to maintain The Punisher’s status as one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel universe, and he does so while blowing stuff up along the way.