Well, a fight for the soul of the Punisher is not what I thought I would be getting to with a new series, even one by writer Jason Aaron, and yet…here I am.
Issue: Punisher #4, July 2022
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Paul Azaceta and Jesus Saiz
The Plot: Ares and the Hand both want Frank’s worship.
Commentary: So, there was a part of me that wondered why Frank Castle was going along with the Hand’s gospel. Yeah, the woman running the show says he’s the Beast’s personal agent on Earth, and he even seems to be manifesting some sort of superpowers that will help him kill. But there were moments here and there where Frank looked like he thought the Hand were kinda nuts, and given Frank’s own mental health can’t exactly be all that good, that’s saying something.
Suffice to say, Frank is starting to object to some of what’s going on around him. Anyone who thought Frank Castle was going to stay with the Hand probably hasn’t heard of the character before.
Regardless, this issue shows the real dispute may be between two opposing factions who both believe Frank is rightfully theirs. On the one side is the Hand, believing Frank as a killer is naturally their chosen Fist of the Beast or whatever. Meanwhile, there’s Ares, the Greek god of war, who thinks Frank’s endless war makes Frank his subject. Ares was the fellow behind the arms dealers Frank has been taking on–hardly a surprise given their headgear–but his dispute with the Hand sounds personal because he believes they took his worshipper.
Meanwhile, flashbacks show a bit more of what made Frank the future Punisher. And I think it is safe to say that neither the Hand nor Ares stopped to consider Frank Castle is far too ornery to just blindly follow either group. The Hand’s ideology might have made them useful weapons in his war, but he’s not the kind to go along with murder for murder’s sake. And as for Ares, well, selling weapons to bad people is not going to work for the Punisher.
Basically, I think it’s safe to say both the Hand and Ares may be in for a world of hurt, and they have it coming.
And I have never enjoyed a Punisher series more than this one.
Wednesday “Quid Pro Woe”
Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #13 (March, 2023)
The X-Files “Talitha Cumi”