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Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Jigsaw

Marvel’s resident psychoanalyst tries to get past the scars and into the head of the Punisher’s most resilient foe

By Tim Stevens Billy Russo is a male in his 30s who favors suits that are made from what he assures staff are "very expensive Italian fabrics." He speaks with a slight Bronx accent that he overemphasizes when attempting to intimidate others, which is often. His demeanor vacillates between charismatic, enraged, cruel, and dissociative and can cover the full gamut of these a few times over within a single session. Billy first garnered attention as an assassin for the Maggia crime family where he was nicknamed "the Beaut." He relished his good lucks and his work with equal aplomb until the day he encountered Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. Attempting to fulfill a contract on Castle's life ended up placing Russo at the vigilante's mercy and the Punisher chose to shove his would-be assassin through a plate glass window rather than kill him. The wounds proved non-fatal but the surgery to save his life left Russo with a distinctly patchwork visage and the new nickname of Jigsaw. While he has had his scars removed at least three times in the past, through a variety of means, he is currently as badly disfigured as ever.

by Alex Maleev

Despite largely nonexistent psychological records on Russo's life prior to his disfigurement, it is clear from historical documents like newspaper clippings, prior testimonies provided while under oath, and his own words in these sessions, that Russo did suffer from psychological ailments even prior to the incident. The most prominent of these is an Axis II diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, indicated by an obsession with his own appearance, his constant manipulation of those around him, his marked disinterest in obeying the law, and the callousness with which he dispatched his "assignments." It is a disorder that he continues to deal with today, fueling his desire to destroy the Punisher as he envies Castle for being "better" at killing than he is. His superiority cripples his ability to disclose in sessions as he cannot conceive of a need to improve or the idea that an inferior like the writer or the rest of the staff could be a help to him. While it is true that Russo has encountered and engaged several vigilantes besides the Punisher, including Spider-Man, Daredevil, Tigra, and Black Widow, these encounters seem largely incidental. Only his encounters with Castle seem to matter to Jigsaw. Thus, while he has stayed away from his arch foe for a time, it is not surprising that he is currently taking steps to make a violent confrontation between

Preview art by
Howard Chaykin

the two inevitable. In this case, Russo has donned an inverted version of the Punisher's uniform and begun to enact his revenge on those that he holds responsible for his disfigurement. While the client refused to discuss it, this is not the first time he has donned a variation of Castle's costume, earlier choosing to wear a skull adorned shirt that was ripped up and sawed back together, presumably to reflect Russo's own scars. Given this and his past documented drive to see every contract through to its end, it is tempting to also diagnosis Jigsaw as suffering from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. He has, in the past, shown some of the symptoms of the disorder including an intractable stubbornness, an all-consuming drive to be the best that often prevents him from completing the very job he is undertaking, and a focus on tasks that is so stringent it prevents him from developing new relationships, outside interests, or participating in leisure activities. However, it is the hypothesis of this writer that Jigsaw does not have OCPD, but rather is still grappling with post traumatic stress disorder. His PTSD was no doubt sparked by his initial disfigurement and has guided his life since. It is why he continues to reoffend, seemingly cannot let go of his fixation on Castle despite it being obvious to anyone at this point that it would be best for the client, and, after his face has been reconstructed, repeatedly places himself in

Preview art by
Howard Chaykin

situations that nearly guarantee that he will be scarred again. Until Jigsaw is honest enough with himself to deal with his PTSD, his behaviors will, time and again, lead him to reenact this earlier trauma. This writer does not yet feel comfortable referring Russo to a psychiatrist due to both his refusal to admit his psychological issues and a previous history of misusing substances, both legal and illegal. Instead, as the client has been repeatedly informed, his best chance for a recovery is continuing a strict schedule of therapy. As Russo continues to refuse to commit to treatment, he has no goals to chart at this time. Billy Russo aka Jigsaw will return to the office on June 8. Please refer to case file PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #20 by Doctors Matt Fraction, Rick Remender and Howard Chaykin for further details. Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has experience in dealing with individuals with PTSD and personality disorders. Read up on the past exploits of the Punisher with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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