Punisher (6th series) #33

Issue Date: 
December 2003
Story Title: 
Confederacy of Dunces, Part 1

Garth Ennis (writer), John McCaea / Caimelab Studios (art), Avalon Studios (color), Cory Petit (lettering), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Helly Lamy (associate editor), Nanci Dakesian (managing editor), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Wolverine all reminisce about their past encounters with the Punisher, each of them sharing a tale of how they were beaten by the vigilante. They all agree that Castle must be stopped, but Daredevil refuses to allow Wolverine or Spider-Man to kill him. Daredevil is the only one who knows how to track the Punisher, and won’t work with Wolverine unless Wolverine agrees. In the meantime, Punisher tracks down several members of the Irish Mafia, and systematically kills most of them before blowing up the rest of the gang with a bomb. Later, Castle begins to systematically execute a number of “snitches” on the streets of New York. Castle meets up with Detective Soap, his informant. Soap gives Punisher information regarding an illegal auction of some sort, and Punisher mocks him as he leaves. As Punisher searches for more information on the street, leaving a bloody trail, he finds another informant. This informant turns out to be a double agent of sorts, as he hands Castle right over to Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Wolverine.

Full Summary: 

Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Wolverine are meeting on a roof. With an opening frame of Punisher blowing a man’s head off, Daredevil announces to the others that “We’re going to have to do something about him. He’s killed several thousand men to date. Shows no sign of stopping whatsoever. They cross whatever line he’s drawn – he judges them, he passes sentence, then he blows them away. What he calls ‘justice’ happens in the time it takes to pull a trigger.”

Daredevil tells Spider-Man and Wolverine that Castle must be handed over to the authorities and brought to trial once and for all. Wolverine objects loudly to Daredevil’s strategy, insisting that the Punisher must fall for the “iggomininny” that he has suffered at Punisher’s hands. Wolverine recollects the last encounter he had with Castle, which resulted in Wolverine’s head and crotch getting blown off by Punisher’s shotgun, followed by a ride underneath a steamroller.
Spider-Man interjects by telling his sordid tale with the recently psychotic Punisher. Castle held Spider-Man in front of himself as a human shield while a sexually androgynous creature beat him into a pulp.
Daredevil tells them that he also was tortured by Castle, but that vengeance is not the way of justice. He refuses to be a murderer.
Wolverine insists that the only way to stop a murderer is to kill him, but Daredevil tells him that that is exactly the way a psycho like Castle thinks. Daredevil tells both of them that they will get Castle his way, or not at all, since the Devil is the only one who knows how to find him. Daredevil wants him apprehended and overwhelmed before he has the opportunity to mount a counterattack that could kill innocent bystanders. Spider-Man instantly agrees to the terms, and Wolverine eventually says that he agrees… though he doesn’t look either of them in the eye.

The Punisher steps into the building, blowing away several gang members as he enters. He came looking for a Mickey Clooney, an apparent leader of the Irish Mafia, but found half of the entire gang to kill instead. According to Castle’s diary, they were once a prominent crime organization, but “liquor and Italians have long since laid them low.” He succeeds in shooting Mickey in the arm, and Mickey runs into the basement. Punisher is unable to follow into the basement, as he will be killed the moment he enters the closed stairway. Instead, the gang cowers in the basement, trying to figure out how to get away, when suddenly, a gas can with a grenade strapped to it goes flying into the basement. Castle walks away calmly as the mob is incinerated. He walks past a dying boy, offering information in exchange for medical help. After the boy tells Frank about a “big auction” where “whoever gets it is gonna rule the city,” Frank walks away, telling the boy to “go towards the light.”

Irish Pub:
Detective Soap is sitting at the bar, drunk, and complaining about his life to the bartender. He says that he has made a terrible mistake. The bartender tells him that “A child o’ four coulda told yeh that was a fella.” Soap says that something has to change in his life to end the constant humiliation and misery. The bartender says that he used to “laugh me arse off at little bollickses like you.” The Punisher arrives to talk to Soap. Punisher asks if Soap has heard anything about a big auction, and Soap insists that he doesn’t know about any auction. However, Soap knows about a major meeting between all of New York’s gangs, including Triads and Yakuza from out of town. Soap says that everyone is going crazy trying to figure out when and where the meeting is going to take place. Punisher tells Soap that the event is “big-time,” and that the event will decide who rules the city. Soap tells Punisher to “have fun killing his way to the heart of the mystery.” As Punisher leaves, Soap complains about how his life has been horrible since they met. Punisher tells Soap to quit drinking.

Punisher is searching through the filthy sections of the city to find anyone who may have information. However, he finds that none of the trash he finds will talk to them, so he executes them, one by blowing his head off, one by throwing him onto the subway tracks, and one by dousing him with gasoline and lighting him up. Finally, on top of a building, Punisher finds somebody to help him out. A young black heroin addict tells Punisher that the meeting is happening at Big Man Chan’s on Mott Street at 3 am, and that something big from the West Coast will be sold. The young man tells Punisher to “pay up,” as apparently there was a deal to give the kid heroin in exchange for information. The boy threatens to “cut some bitch up” for his heroin if he doesn’t get it from Castle that he has to “do whatever it takes.” Punisher thinks, “good point,” and boots the junkie off the rooftop. He then leaves for Mott Street.

Castle’s Apartment:
Castle stops to pick up some more artillery, thinking that he’s been followed. As he leaves his apartment, his suspicions are confirmed. Spacker Dave, a harmless youth who seems to like Castle, but thinks his name is “Mister Smith,” has followed him. Dave tells Castle that he gave up the “spacking” after it became popular, and that he is just Dave now. Dave is now a “super-spotter;” a person who follows superheroes around to see if he can see all of them. He crosses Punisher off of his checklist. Frank’s phone rings, and he tells Dave not to dream of following him around ever again. Dave says “You betcha!” Frank realizes that this is just the beginning, as this kid never goes away.

Street corner:
Frank’s call was from Inskipp, a snitch, who has good information about the New York underworld. Punisher is hesitant to meet him, as he “looks like something you’d find up your nose.” However, Punisher goes ahead with the meeting, which turns out to be his biggest mistake in a long time. Inskipp tells Punisher what a lousy, stupid, no-account psycho loser he is. Frank retorts that there are easier ways to commit suicide. Inskipp continues to taunt the Punisher, finishing by telling him that he isn’t the only one who Inskipp snitches for.
With that, Punisher turns around, and is surrounded by Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. Daredevil tells Inskipp to get lost. Wolverine draws his claws, ready to slice. Daredevil tells Frank that it is up to him how it goes down. Frank replies with “All of a sudden, I’m in the mood for a cheeseburger.”

Characters Involved: 

The Punisher / Frank Castle

Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Daredevil / Matt Murdock
Wolverine / Logan

The Irish Mafia
Mickey Clooney

Detective Soap – Castle’s informant
Spacker Dave
Inskipp – a snitch

Story Notes: 

As part of the MAX imprint this issue is rated PSR+ for mature readers only.

The title “Confederacy of Dunces” is derived from the satirical novel of the same title by John Kennedy Toole.
Spacker Dave has been following Punisher around since Punisher (6th series) #1.

Soap was actually the Commissioner of the NYPD in Garth Ennis’ miniseries “The Punisher (2000),” but has since been demoted to Lieutenant Detective because he was caught with a hooker.

Soap’s misery is endless – he’s been raised by a pedophile priest, had sex with his mother, cheated on her, and had a crush on a transgendered “thing” that may not even be human. He is also an alcoholic who idolized a drunken crooked cop as a child, and has problems with his own sexuality. Punisher has no sympathy for him.

The “thing” that beats up Spider-Man was last seen in Punisher (4th series) #2. It was never explicitly stated what he/she/it was… perhaps for the best. Soap had a crush on it, though.

Wolverine’s fight with Castle takes place in Punisher (6th series) #16-17, but Frank Tieri’s take on this event can be seen in Wolverine (3rd series) #186.

Garth Ennis is demonstrating in both of his Punisher/Wolverine arcs how the character of Wolverine, when poorly written, has degenerated into a muddle of clichés, inner dialogue, and macho stereotyping. He merely takes it one step further.

It is rumored that Punisher #16-17 and Wolverine #186 is an actual duel of writers, with Tieri attempting to defend his book from Ennis’ onslaught.

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