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Punisher: Number One with a Bullet

Rick Remender targets Frank Castle and Spider-Man for a wild ride

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1 preview art by Jason Pearson
By Jim Beard

The Punisher and Spider-Man: not exactly bosom buddies. In fact, one might say that no love's ever been lost between Frank Castle and everyone's favorite web-slinger; and to press the issue even further, Spidey now wants to kill the Punisher!

We know what you're thinking: there's got to be more to that story,. Well, PUNISHER writer Rick Remender, stepping away from Frank's regular series for this very special tale, locks and loads on PUNISHER ANNUAL #1, out September 9:

"Leetha and Lascivious and the Deadly Dozen have a month to kill Frank Castle or they die. One problem is finding Frank. The duo of deadly dames decide the best way to get The Punisher's attention is to murder a room full of veterans. So Frank is out to kill them; he's really motivated, too, seeing as their crime strikes a personal chord.

"As they destroy New York in an attempt to kill one another Spider-Man shows up to put a stop to it all. What he doesn't know is that Leetha and Lascivious have super powers that enable one to unlock lust and the other to unlock rage in their victims. Leetha sends Spider-Man into a rage-filled frenzy, unlocking all his real anger towards Frank Castle who continues to kill people."

Ever since the duo got off on the wrong foot in their very first meeting way back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129, Spidey's steadfastly disagreed with

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1 preview art by Jason Pearson
Frank Castle's war on crime and his lethal lessons for criminals everywhere. That simmering disagreement finally comes to a bubbly boil in PUNISHER ANNUAL #1.

"Spider-Man has done all he could to stop Frank in most cases, however in Civil War and a few other occasions he's allowed Frank to go," Remender reminds. "Once Leetha unlocks the lizard core of [Spidey's] brain, a thing we all have, and his rage floods in unadulterated he realizes that he feels personally responsible for the murders Frank's committed, for not putting Frank down. So his head is all screwed up and he basically decides to do to Frank what Frank has been doing to others for so long-to punish him."

The Punisher's bloody war on crime has seen its ups and downs over the years with varying degrees of success, but this Annual opens on a Frank Castle in a particularly rotten mood. That's a big "uh-oh" for our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, mind-controlled or not.

"This Annual takes place before Frank's struggle with the Deadly Dozen in the current series, so we find [him] in a frazzled state, not having slept in weeks, not since he ran into Microchip in PUNISHER #5," explains Remender. "Microchip passed along the Hood's offer to resurrect Frank's family if he'd give up his crime fighting/killing. Frank declined but he knows the Hood is still out there and that the offer still stands. So Frank's in a bad place; the events of this story do little to help."

The writer also believes PUNISHER ANNUAL #1 paints a pointed portrait of not only the differences in the two heroes' methods but also some common ground as far as their motivations.

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1 preview art by Jason Pearson
"Both characters are extraordinarily skilled fighters, both lost family members and that leads them into their current careers," he says. "One wants to work on the side of the law, the other is judge, jury, and executioner. That basic philosophical difference is really what separates them but in many other ways they are similar. They want to protect people from terrible people. Frank just happens to murder them. Spidey doesn't think that's a very good thing. So they aren't going to be friends, shouldn't be friends, and in this case Spider-Man isn't holding back so Frank is in for a real fight while at the same time attempting to assassinate Leetha and Lascivious."

As if a knock-down-drag-out fist fest between the Punisher and Spider-Man wouldn't be enough to coax a look-see from you, consider this: none other than Jason Pearson provides the pulse-pounding pencils for this pugilistic party.

"Let's face it, I don't care what anyone says to the contrary: comic books' success is entirely dependant on the artist," Remender insists. "A comic artist has to tell a clean and immediately understandable visual interpretation of a story the same as a storyboard artist, but a comic artist also has to make each page a well-refined illustration. Comic book art is the hardest form of art in the world.

"That said, Jason Pearson is one of the great living comic guys on the planet. He tells a clean dynamic story with the polish of a world-class illustrator, stylized and exciting. It's been an absolute treat to get to work with him as well as one of the greatest colorists of all time, Dave Stewart. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. You miss this Annual and you'll be missing something very special. Everyone brought the A-game."

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      Thats exacly what I thought of after reading this preview.


      I totally agree. I mean according to Spidey's bio he can lift an estimated 10 tons. You do not get up after getting hit by a guy who can lift that much, but on the other hand, it's a comic. Anything goes (sigh) haha


      don't like it. if spidey's not holding back then punisher's dead with that one punch. doubt he could turn with the punch fast enough to soften the blow. dead. not knocked-out-at-the-very-least. dead.