By Eric Drumm
PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL has shown us a Frank Castle that we can really get into. Who doesn't love a guy who shoots bazookas and has a careless disrespect for S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? As seemingly indestructible as the Punisher is, he's currently in a less than favorable position: tied to a stake and surrounded by Nazis! Written by industry darling Matt Fraction, it looks like all hell is about to break loose.
With some phony tattoos and a rebel flag t-shirt, Frank was able infiltrate the base of the Hate-Monger's National Force. His mission was simple: Get in, blow them all away and get out. Unfortunately, things didn't go that smoothly. Frank was introduced to the Hate-Monger's secret weapon--H-Ray emitters. Planning to place one in every major American city, these things could tear society apart, swastikas blazing. Matt Fraction warns us that H-Rays are serious business.
"The Hate-Monger wants to rip apart the social fabric of this country and present himself, and his own warped sickness, as a replacement," Fraction explains of the Monger's insidious scheme.
"H-Ray generators are the lynchpin of that plan and, traditionally, they're BAD NEWS--check out the classic CAPTAIN AMERICA #231 where H-Rays caused race riots in NYC," says Fraction. "Now imagine H-Ray generators going off simultaneously in every major metropolis in the United States and you've got a real nightmare. The Punisher has basically tugged a loose thread on a very, uh, evil...sweater...of hate? I lost the metaphor there at the end…" Still, that'd be one messed-up sweater.
Realizing the full scope of what the Hate-Monger was up to, Frank felt that old penchant for murder creeping up on him. The idea of a Nazi takeover was catapulting Frank into full tilt kill-mode. Frank is no rookie when it comes to dusting bad guys, but it seemed that the H-Rays were working their mojo on him as well, driving him to be extra-murderous. That's like pouring gasoline on a bonfire! Frank already had Nazi blood on the brain, but with pure hate radiating around him, he may be more deadly than ever. Will the effects of the H-Rays make Frank unstoppable or just sloppy?
"A little bit of both, really," Fraction points out. "There's more fury inside the guy than ever, and the H-Rays are screwing with his head pretty badly...as we've seen in issue #9, bad things happen when the dog gets let off the chain."
With that much hate going around, Frank might be too busy busting caps to notice the crosshairs on his chest.
Nazi uprisings aside, Frank still has some S.H.I.E.L.D trouble following his trail. After being personally discharged by Tony Stark, supercop and bane of Punisher operations G.W Bridge handed in his badge but is by no means done with Frank Castle.
"Well, you can take the man out of law enforcement, but you can't take law enforcement out of the man," whispers Fraction as he frantically looks over his shoulder. "Bridge is getting a wee bit obsessed with Frank and, I don't know about you, but that's the last guy I want obsessing over bringing ME down..."
Getting wind of Frank's whereabouts, Bridge arrived just in time to find Frank about to be executed by Hate-Monger and his goons. Picking off a few of them before revealing himself, Bridge claimed that he is taking Castle whether they like it or not. One part Nazis, two parts vigilante and a whole lot of guns makes for a stiff team-up cocktail, but Fraction says that Bridge and Castle fighting back-to-back might not be what we think.
"Frank and Bridge would work together, if only because clearing the gameboard of Nazi hicks means getting better shots at one another," explains Fraction.
Once all those pesky Nazis are stains in the sand, Frank and G.W. can resume their rifle-strapped grudge match. However, that is much easier said than done. It's still two against an army, and those historically aren't great odds.
Still tied to a post and surrounded by armed soldiers of hate, Frank might have a little trouble getting out of this one. Even with Bridge laying down some fire, Frank may be sporting some bullet holes in his brand new Captain America suit. According to Matt Fraction, we haven't seen anything yet.
"Three words: THINGS GET WORSE! Oh! Three more: WORLD WAR FRANK!!!"
Sorry, kids. He just revealed Marvel's next big crossover. Curses! While you wait for the official announcement*, lock and load with PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #10 by Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti on sale August 8.
*Sorry, kids. World War Frank isn't happening. Matt Fraction likes to fib.