Punisher (6th series) #37

Issue Date: 
February 2003
Story Title: 
Confederacy of Dunces - part 5

Garth Ennis (writer), John McCrea & Crimelab Studios (pencils), Avalon Studios (colors), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letters), Joe Quesada (editor), Kelly Lama (associate managing editor), Nanci Dakesian (managing editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

A furious Hulk attacks Wolverine, Daredevil and Spider-Man. The Hulk quickly sends Wolverine flying. Next, he slams his fists on the ground, which breaks into pieces and Daredevil falls into the sewers. Only he and Spider-Man are left to battle. Beneath, the Punisher explains to Daredevil why he does what he does and how he got a hold on the Hulk. The Punisher activates a one-time use bomb he had installed into the Hulk’s body, and both he and Spider-Man lose consciousness. Daredevil is too injured to follow Castle, who walks away from him. Four years later, the Punisher returns to New York City and kills Inskipp, who snitched to the heroes where to find him. Castle even convinces Soap to do something with his life. He drops out of the force and becomes a great actor in adult movies. Frank overlooks the city and, after the fall of the Towers he knows that it needs him, and honored promises to protect it wherever he can and to never leave it.

Full Summary: 

(Outside the Punisher’s warehouse)
“Hulk destroy!” “Hulk crush!” “Hulk kill!” With these angry words, a furious Hulk attacks Wolverine, Spider-Man and Daredevil. Wolverine snikts his claws open in an attempt to slash the Hulk, but the Hulk quickly notices that. He slams the little mutant, and sends him flying! The Hulk is angry and bounces with his big fists on the ground beneath them and smashes it into pieces. Spidey can jump into safety, but Daredevil gets caught.

Soap has found Inskipp and broken his nose. Soap points his guns at the man and demands to know from him where Frank Castle, the Punisher, is. Inskipp tries to recover from the pain he endures from his broken nose. Soap is impatient and, since he won’t repeat his question, Inskipp best starts snitching. Inskipp understands and explains to Soap that Castle hit Big Man Chan’s last week, and took out the heads of half a dozen crews! Now, Castle drove a white van out of there, a hooker saw him take it, and a guy Inskipp knows in Red Hook swears that he has seen Castle drive a white van into a warehouse on Pier thirty-nine. Inskipp swears that he is telling the truth. Soap lets Inskipp go and leaves to find the Punisher.

(Outside the Punisher’s warehouse)
Daredevil lands in a sewer, where he is awaited by a patient Punisher, who was hoping to have a talk with the Man Without Fear, since he is the only smart hero he is currently fighting. Daredevil can’t move; he’s too injured for that, but yells at Castle that he has crossed the line and swears that he is through. Castle isn’t impressed. It’s silent for a while. Daredevil realizes that he didn’t impress Castle and asks the man why the Hulk is there.

Wolverine lands in a lake. He gets up from it and wants to know why the Hulk was there. Logan wants to leave, but gets hold by the Boston P.D.

(Outside the Punisher’s warehouse)
The Hulk and Spider-Man are still fighting. Spidey is as confused as the Hulk is and begs him to stop fighting, so that they can talk about this. The Hulk doesn’t listen and goes on.

Beneath them, the Punisher begins his story. He tells Daredevil that, not too long ago, a gang of small-time scum in L.A. accidentally witnessed the Hulk reverting back to Bruce Banner. They knocked him unconscious, drugged him, and flew him out here to auction him off to the highest bidder. The interesting thing was that they got all this on videotape. Daredevil doesn’t know who would want to buy the Hulk. Castle figures the bad guys would. Power like that can be very useful, if you know how to direct it. Case in point: the last three minutes.

Daredevil sees the Hulk then as a kind of a one-use-only ultimate weapon. Castle reveals that the scum didn’t care. The way they saw it, they’d be one the plane home with a suitcase full of cash long before the buyer discovered the limitations. They’d have made it too, if Frank hadn’t killed them along with everybody else at the auction. He continues and says that what might have helped a potential owner was that Banner lost his memory when he got K.O.ed. So you could at least rely on him not to go green at the wrong moment. Trouble was, as the Punisher figured out when he decided to let him loose on Daredevil and his mates, if you wanted the Hulk you had to cure the amnesia. Daredevil asks Castle how he did that. Castle says that Banner was easy. He kicked the living crap out of him. And the Hulk was even easier; Castle left him a note which read: “You are the Hulk: you like to smash!”

Spidey has had quite enough of the Hulk and shoots a few webs to cover up his sight. Dave shows up from an alley behind them and can’t believe that he actually found the Hulk, and marks him as seen on his hero-list. The Hulk grows out of control when he can’t see and goes to stand behind Dave, who doesn’t even notice him because he’s too busy with his list. The Hulk rips the webs of his face. “Oh, Lord,” Spidey thinks.

Daredevil knew that Castle was crazy, but unleashing the Hulk in the middle of Brooklyn? Daredevil means, once that unholy monster gets going, can Castle imagine the blood he’ll have on his hands? That’s the clever part, the Punisher says. If he does says so himself. He explains that, for the past eight days, Banner has been eating stew with C4 sliced into it. A lot of C4, along with a lot of Imodium. It wasn’t difficult, what with is memory gone walkabout. This morning, Castle even slipped in a micro-detonator. What that amounts to is a constipated Hulk with about thirty pounds of high explosives jammed in his guts.

The Punisher quietly opens the sewer put and takes a look at the ongoing battle between Spidey and the Hulk. Castle tells to Daredevil that if you hit the Hulk with that on the outside and he won’t even feel it. But hit him on the outside… The Punisher presses a button and above them, the Hulk screams out from the pain. He even reverts back to Bruce Banner. Castle mentions that there’s only one place Banner can hide from that kind of pain.

Castle tells Daredevil to look at the lengths he had to go to not to kill him. He explains to the blind hero that the fight he had picked wastes everybody’s time. He wants Daredevil to let it be an end to it, for once and for all. Daredevil tells the Punisher that he’ll never understand. But Castle claims that he does. He knows that Daredevil wants to stop him murdering criminals by taking him off the streets. But that’s stupid, he says. If Daredevil sends him to prison, he’ll just kill everyone there he meets. There’s only one way to stop him, and Daredevil knows that. And if Daredevil doesn’t have it in him to do that, then he best don’t waste his time. The Punisher climbs out of the sewer and tells Daredevil that Spidey will dig him out once he wakes up.

The Punisher walks over the streets and finds both Spidey and Banner unconscious. A voice behind him tells Castle that he’s under arrest. It’s Soap. Soap informs Castle that he is arresting him for the crime of murder. He reads him his rights and asks him if he has understand it all. The Punisher asks Soap if he has lost his mind. Soap tells Castle that it’s over. This sickness of him and Soap’s collusion with it. Soap will turn himself in too.

The Punisher walks over to Soap. He gets scared and points his gun at him. Castle doesn’t stop walking. Soap fires and shoots at Castle. But the bullet didn’t go through his vest. The Punisher takes Soap’s gun away from him and tells him to get himself a forty-five. Soap falls on his knees and begs Castle to kill him and to just get it over with. He is not kidding himself there. Soap knows he will never turn things around, or do what’s right, or change his stupid, pathetic life. The worm is never going to turn. All he’s going to do is stay a worm. The Punisher, calmly, gives Soap a word of advice, for when things aren’t getting any better: just go. Soap cries and Castle walks away.

(On his train)
Wolverine is impatient and wants to go back to the fight in Brooklyn. The man next to him hears Logan mumbling, and informs Logan that he has taken the wrong train: this one goes to Philadelphia! “Noooooooo!” Logan yells.

The Punisher recalls:
“Dave – Spacker or not – suffered a broken neck when he was run over by the Hulk. Although rendered quadriplegic for life, his fascination with super heroes is undiminished.”

Dave himself lies in the hospital and spots Iron Man flying by.

“Soap had an asset that hadn’t previously occurred to him. He quit the force and moved to L.A., where he became a major star in the adult film industry.”

“Wolverine, Daredevil, Spider-Man and the Hulk are all still doing there thing.”

It’s been four years now since Castle came back. Back then, to spread the word, he threw a maggot off the Empire State Building. And, well, call him sentimental, Castle wants to do the exact same thing now. He has caught up with Inskipp and has heard that he snitched him to the heroes. Inskipp begs Castle not to do it and apologizes a hundred times for snitching him. Castle tapes Inskipp’s mouth to shut him up, and throws him off the building.

Four years ago, the view was different to Frank. He remembers the day the Towers came down, not for all the sound and fury, not the streets awash with smoke, but for the looks on the faces of the people. The stricken horror of innocence killed stone dead. See? Frank thought so. See now? See what the world is really like? The City, now, it knew. It had known all along. For a moment, Frank seems to hear it talking. “Frank,” it says, “Don’t ever go away again.” But, Frank isn’t going anywhere. The City tells him: “I need you, Frank.” Says New York City. Frank proudly overlooks the beautiful town, and recalls how much he always liked it.

Characters Involved: 

Punisher / Frank Castle

Wolverine / Logan
Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Daredevil / Matt Murdock
Hulk / Bruce Banner

Iron Man / Tony Stark

Detective Martin Soap

Spacker Dave
Inskipp (gangster)
various Boston P.D. Cops (unnamed)
passengers on Wolverine’s train (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Series finale. The Punisher’s adventures continue in the Punisher (7th series).

This issue is under the Marvel Knights label and rated PSR+ for parental supervision.

At the end of the story, it’s four years later since this issue begins.

The fall of the Towers the Punisher speaks of are, of course, the World Trade Center twin towers, which were brutally destroyed by terrorists on September 11th 2001.

Castle was revealed to have rescued the Hulk in Punisher (6th series) #34.

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