Punisher (6th series) #17

Issue Date: 
December 2002
Story Title: 
Aim Low

Garth Ennis (writer), Darick Robertson (art), Avalon’s Matt Milla (colors), RS & Comicraft’s Wes (letters), Kelly Lamy (assoc. managing editor), Nanci Dakesian (managing editor), Stuart Moore (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine and the Punisher are surrounded by an army of midgets, in obvious danger. Wolverine and Punisher attempt to fight their way out of the warehouse, but are pinned down by the mob. The leader of the mob, Tony Casino, explains why he is taking the legs of other criminals. Punisher enrages Wolverine, causing one of his berserker rages and freeing them in the process. As they escape, Punisher castrates Wolverine with an Uzi, buying more time to regroup. Afterward, Tony learns the hard way that he can’t remove Wolverine’s legs with a chainsaw, and Punisher returns to shred the little people with extreme vengeance. As Wolverine returns to fight Punisher to the death, Castle shows no remorse, and parks a steamroller on Logan’s head. Punisher then finds the wounded Grigio boys, and finishes them off.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine and the Punisher are surrounded by an army of midgets, with the leader claiming that they were all on the same side.

Both sides are at a stand-off. Punisher knows from experience that it is obvious what is going to happen. First, the “rodent” will say “Whut kinda frikkin’ freakshow is this?” Then, whoever it is’ll come back with “There’s no need for that kind of talk! I already told you, we’re on your side!” And hey, presto – “Ain’t no leg-severin’ psychos on-side with th’ Wolverine! Heads up – gonna buy ya a drink ya won’t ferget! Gonna buy you th’ whole snikt-pack!” Wolverine dives into the crowd, tearing the little people apart.

Punisher reckons that pulling a gun would be futile, so he goes to plan B: swinging his baseball bat at the crowd furiously, knocking several of them around. Punisher and Wolverine fight ferociously, trying to escape the clutches of hundreds of little hands. The leader of the mob orders the mob to pin them to the ground, but not to kill them – he wants them both alive. Punisher notes that the last bunch of people that this group took alive ended up two feet shorter. He slowly begins to be overtaken by the group, and “a fat lot of use the rodent’s turned out to be,” as Wolverine is pinned. Punisher collapses soon after. Punisher notes that if he wasn’t the Punisher, he’d be screaming like a girl right now. The voice tells them that the fighting was all unnecessary; there is too much good work to be done and that introductions are obviously in order. One small person steps forward and introduces himself as Tony Casino, brother of Tommy Casino (a man who Punisher killed). Tony thanks Punisher for killing his brother along with the rest of the East Coast mob. Punisher asks if he is taking over, and why he has been removing the legs of other criminals. Tony replies that “those sons of bitches owe me for forty-five years of hell.”

Tony gives them a backstory of how he loved his brother Tommy very much, but Tommy found his little brother to be nothing more than an embarrassment. Tommy would torture Tony as a child, humiliating him every day of his life despite the fact that Tony wanted nothing more than to be just like Tommy. This resulted in Tony hating his brother unconditionally and plotting his revenge. Tony would plot for years to find a means of exacting his revenge, and when the Punisher busted into a meeting of the mob families, Tony found his chance. Tony had gathered others just like him – little people who were full of hatred for being ridiculed all their lives. To answer Punisher’s question about the legs, Tony brings in Paulie Grigio. Tony got him first – a test run of sorts. Paulie went for a beer with the boys, and never came home again. After his legs had healed over, months later, and after a period of Tony’s “attitude adjustment,” Paulie became a better person. Paulie sulks miserably as Tony talks, as Paulie has been dressed in a dwarf costume, complete with pointy cap. “Then,” as Tony says, “the rest.” Tony believes that they will get all of the mob members. He wants all of them to know what it is like to be ridiculed and bullied for their appearance, and hopes that they will beg for mercy and beg them to stop hurting them because of the way they look. They will be a race of slaves for his New York Underworld.

Punisher finally steps in, asking why they believe he is on the same side. Tony tells him that it is obvious – they want the same thing. Dismembered or dead, it doesn’t matter as long as the criminals are off the streets, right? Tony also says “As for your fellow crimefighter, well, why wouldn’t he want to join us?” Wolverine doesn’t understand. Punisher looks at him and says “Because they’re the only people in the world shorter than you are.” Wolverine, still without a face from Castle’s shotgun blast, looks at him and says “Whut did you just say?” Punisher replies dryly with “Don’t you want to feel better about yourself… shorty?”

Wolverine loses control, and flies into a berserker rage, throwing midgets everywhere. Wolverine tries to stab Punisher, but Punisher uses a midget as a human shield. Punisher picks up one of them and begins using him as a club against the mob once more, trying to get away quickly. Punisher and Wolverine successfully escape from their clutches, and run to the other side of the warehouse. Tony screams at his goons to shoot them. Wolverine realizes that Castle isn’t guilty for the mutilations, and that Castle had to taunt him in order to make an escape. Wolverine asks Punisher to let him know in advance next time when he is planning to make a break for it. In response, Punisher fires a volley from his Uzi into Logan’s crotch, severely debilitating him. “They’ll grow back,” says Punisher. “You’re in my way here.” Punisher is using Wolverine’s damaged body as a means of buying more time for himself. Tony wants the Punisher brought down, but keeps a group of his men to saw off Wolverine’s legs. Punisher notes that Tony missed the point – Punisher wants the scum dead, not crippled, humiliated, or enslaved. If he tries to replace them, he’s dead too. Punisher executes the entire mob that was chasing him with an Uzi that he found.

Meanwhile, the group that has pinned Wolverine prepares for the “surgery.” Tony grabs his chainsaw and begins to cut, but Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton chews up the chainsaw blade. This surprises Tony, and several members of his mob begin running away terrified, claiming that Punisher is killing everyone and that they must escape. Tony tells them to stop, but it is too late – the midgets pinning Wolverine have run away, and Wolverine rips off Tony’s legs as a result. Punisher picks off every single member of the mob with his guns. Tony crawls to the sewer, hoping to escape.

Punisher returns to Wolverine, asking where Tony went. Wolverine tells Punisher that he’s “got bigger fish ta fry, just as soon as I’m back on my feet!” Punisher hears a gun click, and turns to fight, but it is just Paulie, who puts the gun to his own mouth and pulls the trigger. Punisher thinks that Tony may have headed for the tunnels again, and throws a grenade down to check. As Tony’s head flies out of the manhole with an explosion, Punisher knows he was successful.

Wolverine crawls towards Castle, telling him that it is time for the final reckonin’. Punisher thinks for a moment. He won’t be able to kill Wolverine, and his legs will already be knitting together again. What Punisher needs is a way to slow him down for a couple of days, and get a chance to get away so that Logan can’t follow the scent for a couple of days. Punisher looks around the warehouse, and sees a steamroller. As Wolverine howls, Punisher drives it right over Wolverine, parking it on his head.

Punisher looks at Wolverine’s crushed body. “Well. We’ve had our differences. Just goes to show what we can do when we overcome them. Maybe one day we can work together again. The underworld won’t know what hit it. Until then – good luck, Pine Marten.” And people say he has no sense of humor.

Punisher searches the warehouse, eventually finding the depressed, legless bodies of the mob, still alive in their cots. “Some might say they’ve suffered enough,” thinks Castle as he draws his weapons. “You know what I say?”
“Wrong again.”

Characters Involved: 

The Punisher / Frank Castle
Wolverine / Logan

Tony Casino
“The New Underworld” – midget crime syndicate

Grigio Family – crime syndicate
Paulie Grigio
Pete Grigio

Story Notes: 

This issue is rated PSR+ for mature readers only.
Punisher and Wolverine meet up next in Wolverine (2nd series) #186, where Frank Tieri shows how he can badmouth Garth Ennis’ Punisher.

Tommy Casino, the big brother of Tony, was executed in an intentionally botched mercenary job by the Punisher in Punisher (6th series) #14.

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