April 24, 2024

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Noteworthy Issues: Punisher #5 (August, 2022)

Frank decides he's had enough of the Hand.

Why would Frank Castle spend time with the Hand?    Those guys are fanatics, and they are evil.  They’re about murder for murder’s sake.  Frank kills to punish evildoers.  Plus, Frank doesn’t seem to believe in their murder religion.  It was only a matter of time before he tried to leave.

It may not go over well.

Issue:  Punisher #5, August 2022

Writer:  Jason Aaron

Artists:  Paul Azaceta and Jesus Saiz

The Plot:  Frank decides to leave.

Commentary:  The previous issue had Frank learn, to his…well, “horror” is probably the wrong word…that the High Priestess had murdered some of the Hand ninjas’ own families before their eyes in order to make them more like their special high murderer, namely Frank.  And Frank, well, he didn’t take too well to that and tried to kill the Priestess.

Surprisingly, she isn’t human.

But much of this issue, like this first storyline as a whole, follows what amounts to an extended origin story of how Frank and Maria Castle got together.  This issue shows more of how Frank was punishing people lethally long before his family had a picnic in the exact wrong spot.  His life had regrets, but the basic idea is simply this:  Maria has always been the thing that could make Frank more, well, human.  When she’s around, he doesn’t quite seem to feel like dishing out the violence quite so much, and her feelings for him are genuine.

That said, this issue also shows Frank had a friend in high school, a nerdy fellow who managed to get through to Frank and steer him in a direction that would make use of his anger and violent tendencies, a direction that led to Maria but also led to other things that are mere stepping stones on the way to Frank putting on a shirt with a giant skull on the front.

Naturally, taking the resurrected Maria out of the Hand’s temple is not as easy as it appears.  You don’t just walk out of a place like that.  And with Greek God of War Ares waiting in the wings to strike, Frank better hope those Beast-powers kick in more if he’s going to live through that.

Grade:  A-