Punisher War Journal #6

Issue Date: 
June 1989
Story Title: 
On The Track Of Unknown Animals

Carl Potts (writer), Jim Lee (pencils), Jim Novak (letters), Gregory Wright (colors), Don Daley (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

With the Punisher yet again returning injured after a successful mission, Microchip has had enough and thinks it’s time that Frank goes on a “vacation” before the war becomes too much for him to handle. Microchip sends him to Africa, to join an expedition team that consists of some old friends of his. Frank agrees and travels to Africa, where he meets up with Micro’s friends. Meanwhile, in Madripoor, Wolverine notices an unknown face in Rosie’s bar and decides to check him out. The guy is wearing a jacket made out of a cheetah, and Logan realizes that is illegal. He confronts the guy, and he spills to Logan who he is working for and that the poachers are in Africa. Logan decides to travel to Africa to stop those men. Meanwhile, a Deli owner gets visions about Frank and Wolverine fighting, and decides to check them out. The Punisher arrives in Africa first, where he and the expedition team meet some local villagers, and help out the needy. As the expedition team becomes more friendly with another, they decide to split up to conclude separate missions. Frank goes along with Professor Wyeth, Micro’s old friend, and to check out if a dinosaur actually lives in the area. Wyeth’s wife and a corporal take off together with a Pygmy guide to find rare gorilla’s that live in the area. Frank’s mission fails, but Norma and the corporal manage to find the apes and shoot them, and decide to keep the “sellable body parts.” The Pygmy panics over it, and Norma has the corporal shoot the boy so he won’t spoil it for them. They return to the local village, lying that wild apes attacked them and killed Jean. Frank goes to investigate, and soon realizes that Jean and the apes were killed by humans, but doesn’t know by whom. Wolverine makes it to Africa as well, where, after tracking down the guy’s boss and causing him to go on an “early retirement,” tries to track down the expedition team the boss informed him about. Logan finds the Punisher, and thinks he is responsible for killing the apes. Wolverine and the Punisher fight, and Logan manages to win and throws Frank into a river, thinking that the creatures there will finish the job. He continues his journey to take care of the other expeditors. As Logan leaves, an alligator moves closer to Frank, ready to kill him!

Full Summary: 

Sitting impatiently in their hideout, Microchip worries where the Punisher is. Micro reminds himself that the Punisher wanted this job done, but he can’t do it alone. On that very moment, a badly injured Punisher enters the hideout, and states that he needs Micro’s help!

As Frank goes to sit on a chair, Micro wants to take a wild guess: Frank got injured while taking down a crack den and passed on the way back. The Punisher denies that. He stopped a street gang from breaking into a warehouse. Micro wonders if Frank ever thought about calling the cops for help. He notices that Frank’s arm is torn pretty bad.

He mentions to Frank that he’s got to take a break every once in a while, or else he’ll be done for. Microchip believes that Frank’s obsession has gotten out of hand. He believes that, pretty soon, Frank won’t be able to stand seeing a litterbug without pumping some 9MM rounds in his direction. Micro knows that he has been after Frank to relax for months now, and he thinks he has come up with the perfect solution.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Texas, a billionaire views his big game trophy room with pride. It is filled with numerous stuffed animals he has paid others to kill. The room is almost filled, that is. One empty plaque awaits its trophy head. And in the heart of the African Congo, virtually fearless Pygmy hunters flee in terror! Terror of a huge Saurian shadow crashing through the jungle.

Elsewhere, in Madripoor…
The island is situated in Southeast Asia, and also home to a mutant the world thinks is dead. Wolverine takes a look at the customers at the bar, and notices how quiet things are tonight. It’s almost a pleasure to be bored. Almost.

He notices someone leaving, and realizes he has never seen the guy before. Logan takes a look at the guy’s coat, which is made entirely out of cheetah skin, and a cheetah is the rarest of the big cats. Logan doesn’t think the guy got that coat in a legal way, so he follows the guy outside. He sees the guy is heading towards a nearby truck, which smells like dead animals, probably full of skins. Wolverine heard of a big ring of international poachers specializing in endangered species, who kill the last of living treasures just for the big bucks. He thinks it’s time for him to teach the guy a career change.

Logan walks over to the guy, and asks him where he got that coat. The guy laughs, and mocks at Logan’s height, and jokes that he doesn’t deal with Neanderthals like him. Logan angrily pulls the guy out of his truck and slams him against his door window, thinking it’s fine to do it the guy’s way. Logan demands that the guy tells him who’s killing these animals and why they are in Madripoor, and where those guys are heading. The guy slips a knife out of his sleeve, and sticks it through Logan’s chest! Nevertheless, Logan survives, thanks to his healing factor, and angrily snikts out his claws.

He demonstrates that his claws can cut through anything, including the window of the guy’s truck. The guy tells Logan to take it easy, and explains that he’s just a transporter. He picked up the load at the airport, and the plane came from Pointe-Noir in the Congo. He was hired by a Congolese military guy named Major Kinami. The guy is to wait in this bar between eight and ten until a party will come to him, a party who’ll recognize him by the coat he’s wearing and they’ll pay him cash. The payer is the one who will distribute the animals throughout Asia. The down payment was this coat, and the guy admits he thought it looked cool, and he doesn’t know squat about rare animals.

Logan holds his claws close to the guy’s throat, mentioning to the guy that he now knows all about rare animals, doesn’t he? Logan orders the men to strip his shorts, which he does, and to run away as fast as a cheetah, since this is not the nice part of Madripoor. Logan checks out the back of the truck, and notices skins and parts of over a hundred dead animals – and another king cheetah pelt. These two might have been the last ones.

The stench is too much for Logan’s heightened senses to handle. He thinks that having indestructible bones don’t help if a blade slices between them. It will take a couple of hours for his healing factor to mend the wound. He starts the truck, thinking he’ll park this vehicle back at the bar and have one of the employees wear the coat each night until they nail the distributor. Meanwhile, he’ll return the cheetah pelt to Africa and pay a visit to Major Kinami.

Microchip puts some bandages around the Punisher’s wounds. Micro believes that Frank has to take a break from the war, or else he’ll be the one who’ll end up dead. He proposes a vacation of some sorts. A trip where Frank can get away, satisfy his need for action, and use his skills without killing anyone, or getting killed. Micro explains that an old associate of his, Professor Richard Wyeth, is heading up an African expedition in search of a reported Sauropod dinosaur. Frank looks uncertain, but Micro warns Frank not to give him that look. Micro further explains that there are 55,000 square miles in the Likouala swamps, which are part of the Congo basin. It’s the only place on Earth where climate has remained unchanged for 65 million years, before the end of the dinosaur age.

Frank doesn’t believe that. Microchip adds that, if there really are any dinosaurs left roaming the surface of the Earth, they’ll be in the largely unexplored rainforests and swamps of said region. Frank still doesn’t believe it. Microchip adds that there are lots of native tales supporting the dinosaurs’ existence. Frank doesn’t believe that those stories mean anything. Microchip knows that February through June is the dry season in Africa, tough to boat around but it’s easier to spot a water-loving creature in smaller bodies of water. Frank totally agrees with that.

Micro puts the last bandage on, and cruelly makes it a little tight, hurting Frank a bit. Wyeth asked Microchip a recommendation of a survivalist expert with jungle expertise to act as a security, hunter and bearer. Frank doesn’t want to hear anything more about it. He’ll take the job already! Microchip is glad to hear that, because he took the liberty of forging a passport and papers for Frank.

The apartment of the Deli Owner’s in the Punisher’s safe house building…
The Deli owner’s family is preparing dinner. His son smiles that he’s almost done, thanks to his superior knife techniques. His daughter smiles that there’s no time to practice, since now that the landlord’s efforts to evict them through harassment are over, thanks to Daredevil’s watchful eye. And, also thanks to Daredevil, they are going to be involved in a big, legal battle. She fears that their arts may suffer more for lack of training.

The Deli owner comes out of his bedroom, and greets the kids. He explains that his meditation kept being interrupted by strange visions. He saw a big-clawed jungle cat hunting a gorilla. He goes to sit on a table and notices carrot sticks, and picks one up to eat it. Anyhow, next thing he knew, he saw a pack of gorilla’s tear into the cat. He had also an overwhelming urge for Lone Star beer. The strangest thing is that the deli owner has never seen that kind of beer before. He wants to know if they’ve got enough money for affaires down south.

Later, in Africa
Punisher’s War Journal: Frank’s plane approaches the small airstrip below, which is cut out of the Congolese jungle near the village of Impfondo. Microchip’s documents for Frank to use mention the name of Charles Fort, which will be the Punisher’s alias for the “vacation.” For some reason, Micro thought that he was humorous. Frank knows that he’s here to “take a break” from his war against all criminals, which stands for payback for the murder of his entire family.

In addition to Professor Wyeth and Frank himself, the expedition Frank is now on includes Wyeth’s wife, and they got married six months ago. Microchip has never even met Wyeth’s wife. This country is a former French colony. Recently, the Russians have head a healthy hand in the area. Lots of Congolese kids go to Cuba for higher education.

The plane lands, and everyone steps out of it. Wyeth and his wife get welcomed by Father Murray, who is glad to finally have Wyeth here. Wyeth thanks the Father for the kind words, and introduces him to the man standing next to him. That is Lieutenant Bokenga, the head of Congolese military security for their expedition. His wife Norma is followed by Corporal Ebambe, who is also of Congolese security. Kurt Reader, their geomorphology and paleontology expert, is next and Bill Lim, is an anxious young man who is already unloading their anthropologist and entomologist. Chuck Fort is their jungle survival expert and hunter.

Father Murray finds this fantastic, and can’t wait to introduce the team to the Pygmy guides he has arranged for them. Their chief is Victor Obiang. Behind him is Jacques Tsolo. The young one is called Jean N’Dosa, who picked up some English from the Father. Later, Frank watches how things proceed. The natives line up for the aspirin, fungicides and so on he and his new friends deliver. Their relief is something worthy to see. The Professor seems like a good guy. Frank wouldn’t expect much else from an old buddy of Microchip. He’s still trying to size up the operation members. Corporal Ebambe seems more interested in trying to impress the local young women with his uniform than anything else. One of the natives asks Frank if he knows the jungle. He replies that he doesn’t know this particular one.

The expedition goes on for a while, and Frank struggles to get his hammock up. As one of the natives tries to help him out, a panicking mother comes begging for help, as her child was bitten by the black mamba! She wants to know where Father Murray is. Frank saw him leaving and promises to go take care of it. Frank finds an anti-venom and injects the kid with it. It should do the job, at least, if they aren’t too late for it. Half an hour later, the crisis is over. Frank can feel little Jean’s eyes on him through the window. The mother thanks Frank for the help, and he smiles.

As night falls, thousands of fruit bats make a racket too loud to sleep in. The ultra-sonic mosquito repellent seems to attract them. And that’s followed by a torrential downpour. After the rain, Frank gets engulfed in a seemingly endless cloud of tiny moths. He finds his heart racing. Not with the emotions of the war, but with wonder at nature’s play around him.

In the next morning, the expedition team begins their trek. They’re headed towards a village by a river that leads to lake Tele, which is the site of the latest mokele-mbembe sightings. The Pygmies stop often and wait for the rest of the expedition team to catch up with them. This continues even after Victor, Jacques and Jean take on the burden of most of the expedition packs. Pound for pound, pygmies may be the toughest people on Earth. Their intimate knowledge of their surroundings serves the expedition team well. They cut sections of a specific vine containing a sweet watery liquid, which is a nice break from the medicated canteen water.

It’s decided to bring a couple of deer with them to the village as a friendly gesture. Jacques’ crossbow shot hits its mark but spooks the rest. Frank manages to shoot another deer. Jacques is impressed by Frank’s skills, but claims that his gun makes too much noise.

Suddenly, Frank notices a black mamba near Jacques’ legs, and shoots it! Jacques is stunned, and thanks Frank for saving his life. Frank smiles that he couldn’t let his cheering session get aced. Suddenly, another black mamba appears, but one of the natives appears and kills it with a poisonous dart. He explains to Frank that, whenever one black mamba appears, another is nearby lurking. Frank shakes hands with the native, and promises he’ll remember that. Soon, the expedition team reaches the village where they’ll seek information on mokele-mbembe and barter for dugout canoes. Their gifts of medicine and food to the villagers create a friendly atmosphere.

Wyeth shows the natives a book of animal silhouettes to see if they recognize them. It’s to test if the natives are honest. Even the animal life forms such as the bear and moose are included in the book. Time after time, the natives pass by the non-indigenous silhouettes. Time after time, they point out the mokele-mbembe. One of the native women claims that she has seen one when she was still a little girl. The team finds out that the beast sometimes inhabits deep pools of water that connect to the river. The expedition team’s excitement is interrupted by a couple trying to sell gorilla skulls. The Professor refuses to buy them, as he doesn’t want to condone the killing of those great apes. Western science says that gorillas don’t inhabit region, but the natives claim that there are plenty of gorilla’s there.

The expedition team decides to split the group in three teams. Norma is interested in finding the gorillas. The corporal volunteers to provide protection. Chief Victor assigns Jean as their guide. Reader, Lim and Jacques will search for interesting geological formations and rare insects. Professor Wyeth himself, the Chief and Frank take a dugout to check out some pools with sonar.

Meanwhile, at the San Antonio Airport…
The Deli owner arrives at the airport. He looks around, thinking that these strong visuals he has been having are unusual. He thinks it’s time to let them get in and have some direction. He decides to take a deep breath and to relax. After he does so, he notices a beer, an envelope, and a table on which the description of “Butler Ranch” can be read.

Wyeth finds something moving under the water, and the creature is about 16 feet long and moving 12 feet down! He wonders if it could be the one they are after. Frank wants to dive into the water to find out, but Wyeth holds him back, claiming it’s too late as they already lost the creature. Frank believes it must have swum through the channel they can see and moved back into the river.

Elsewhere in the jungle, the Pygmy guide informs Norma that about 1000 meters is where a family group of great apes is supposed to be. Norma admits to Jean that she and her friend are both very thirsty and ask if he can bring them some water vines. Jean leaves, and Norma tells the corporal that they are about ten yards from the river. Ebambe smiles, thinking that’s perfect. A while later, they find the apes sitting together in a circle, and the corporal shoots them all!

40 minutes later…
Jean returns with the water, and notices that neither Norma or the corporal seem to notice him. He looks at the corporal, and notices that he’s washing blood off his hands! Jean thinks it’s best for him to wait until the corporal is done and pretend he didn’t see anything. But, he does want to ask the chief about this later.

After the corporal is done, Jean hands the water over to Norma, who finds it ironic that they are near a river and can’t even drink the water, because they can’t know if it’s clean or not. Jean walks away after handing over the water, and Norma lies that they didn’t see any apes and thinks they should go and try to find some more. She notices how strange Jean is acting and believes the boy knows what happened. Jean wonders why Norma lies to him, because he smelled the apes along the way.

Two hours later, back at the village…
The other expedition team members have already returned and patiently wait for Jean, Norma and the corporal to return. Suddenly, everyone can hear cries for help. The corporal holds an injured Norma in his arms and meets up with the professor. They both claim that, on the way back, they were attacked by wild gorillas and took Jean. Frank and the Chief immediately leave to go find Jean.

Frank notices that they are already losing light and that it’s tough to make out track details. The Chief notices that a battle occurred though, but not between apes. He believes that the boy got dragged in the direction to the right. They find Jean’s badly injured body hanging in a tree. Frank goes after him, noticing he is still breathing. He takes him out of the tree but, after that, he notices that the cut in Jean’s throat is too deep, and Jean dies. Frank notices how Jean pointed with his finger before he died. Before he can tell the chief about it, the chief takes off to bring Jean back home, alone. Frank promises that someone will die for this.

Elsewhere in the jungle…
Wolverine runs through the jungle. He recalls that Pointe-Noire was productive, but he admits that tracking the poachers through the bushes is more his style. He’s using the pelt of the poacher’s victim for bush camouflage. He remembers that Major Kinami spilled the info on the poaching ring operation within the Congo military. He knows that in orders for the soldiers to be picked up, that location is marked by a red flag in a treetop. As Logan cuts his way through some tall grass, he remembers that, before his “early retirement” the major informed Logan that several poachers were attached to an expedition team in this area.

Nearby the village…
Frank has checked out the direction Jean pointed in, and finds a buried mass of ape heads. He believes that the kid was killed for knowing too much. It looks like the people responsible for Jean’s dead dragged the ape bodies and dumped them into the river. They apparently only kept the “saleable parts.” One of the bodies got hung up. Frank thought that he was here to prevent bodies from being killed, and it looks like he failed.

Nearby, Wolverine notices the red flag. And he can also smell a human with animal blood, and something else, too. Suddenly, Logan can hear a large animal growl!

The Punisher finds himself attacked by a huge gorilla! Frank tries to hide in a tree, but the ape manages to grab him in his arms before Frank can do that. The animal starts crushing Frank’s bones. He realizes he can escape, but doesn’t like the idea much. He takes out a knife, and uses it to kill the gorilla! After doing that, Frank feels sorry.

Wolverine meets up with the Punisher, and shouts that he’ll pay for this. Frank doesn’t understand what’s going on. Logan immediately attacks the Punisher. Frank feels too tired for a long battle and attempts to punch Logan out, but fails too thanks to his adamantium bones, and Frank even hurts his hands. Logan wants to know where Frank’s buddies are. Frank promises that Logan won’t get them, but Logan promises he’ll get them all. He snikts out his claws while Frank uses a blade, but Logan manages to slice Frank across his face!

Frank rolls into the river, and Logan retracts his claws. He realizes that the Punisher was fast and that he barely managed to scrape him. Still, Logan also knows that there are things in that river that will finish the job. Logan takes off to deal with the others. Meanwhile, below in the river, an alligator is approaching the unconscious Punisher!

Characters Involved: 

The Punisher

Wolverine (in his Patch identity)

Bill Lim, Corporal Ebambe, Lieutenant Bokenga, Professor Norma Wyeth, Professor Richard Wyeth (all expedition team)

Jacques Tsolo, Jean N’Dosa, Victor Obiang (all Pygmy guides)

Major Kinami
Father Murray

Deli owner and his family (all unnamed)
Several customers at Rosie’s Bar (all unnamed)
several African citizens (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The X-Men, Wolverine included, seemingly died in Dallas to stop the Adversary in Uncanny X-Men #227. However, they were rescued by the goddess Roma, though the world was not made aware of this. This story takes place sometime after that issue. The bar Logan is in at the beginning of the story is actually called Rosie’s Bar and belongs to a friend of his.

This issue marks the first meeting between Wolverine and the Punisher.

First appearance of Major Kinami, Father Murray, the expedition team members and the Pygmies.

First time the Punisher uses his alias of Chuck Fort.

Included in this issue, is a recap page explaining some of the weapons the Punishers uses.

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