Wolverine / Punisher #1

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Part One: Napoleon

Peter Milligan (writer), Lee Weeks (Penciler), Tom Palmer (Inker), Dean White (Colorist), Randy Gentile (Letters), John Miesegaes (Assistant Editor), Axel Alonso (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher).

Brief Description: 

Ten years ago Oswald Zinn, the Napoleon of crime, was living a dream life for a crime boss. He had one of the most intricate networks in the world of thieves and killers to do his bidding. Until his goons screwed up and blow away an innocent girl in broad daylight, directly in front of a disguised Frank Castle. The Punisher dismantled the Napoleon gang, killing all members of Napoleon’s minute operational cells. Fearing for his business, Napoleon activated the Immortals, a group of high-caliber killers. Frank killed the Immortals with ease, and trapped Billy, Napoleon’s right-hand man. Over the phone, Punisher informed Napoleon that he was handing out punishment, and killed Billy. Napoleon holed up in a hotel suite with plenty of guards, now paranoid that Castle was coming. A man named Mr. Gottlieb told Napoleon about Erewhon: a place where A-list criminals were safe from the law. Napoleon dismissed it originally as myth, but Gottlieb insisted he was just there. The next day, Napoleon boarded a ship to Erewhon, somewhere in South America, and travelled with the assistance of various guides for several days. Upon arriving, he was disappointed to learn that it was a village of grass huts and not a five-star hotel.
Ten years later:
An announcement is made, over loudspeakers, to the population of Erewhon, now a large community. The announcement: a gift that the people have been waiting for is to be granted within days. Meanwhile, Gottlieb requests that a criminal named Harvey Long go to Erewhon. Upon arriving, Harvey runs through the jungle, looking to get away from someone as fast as possible. Napoleon talks with his new gang of men in Erewhon about Harvey being the perfect bait to catch a Punisher, and how there is another man in the jungle to keep Harvey alive. Harvey runs through the jungle, terrified, before he slams into the chest of another man: Wolverine.

Full Summary: 

(Ten years ago)

Oswald Zinn, the man known otherwise as Napoleon, is in charge of one of the largest crime syndicates in America and the entire world. He owns men from coast to coast, and at a certain point in time, he realized that this was the way: no longer did he have to pull robberies and murders by himself, he could give a group of goons ten percent to do it for him. He spends his days partying and skiing, never doing any of the dirty work. In Los Angeles, one of his robbery cells attacks with Uzis, blowing away an innocent bystander and wounding others. A man attempts to help a wounded guard, but one of the gang members puts a gun to his head and tells him to stop moving. The men rob the bank and fill some bags with money, and leave in a hurry. The bystander is Frank Castle, The Punisher. Frank hides underneath the getaway car, following them to their hideout.

At the hideout, two of the gang members fight over the girl that was killed. The gang argues with each other, then finally decides to stop fighting and call it a rest. However, as they stop squabbling, Frank walks into the room with a pair of shotguns and quickly blows away the white supremacist of the group. Immediately, without provocation, Frank kills another member. The remaining two stare in horror, as Frank promises that only one of them will live to talk.
Back at Napoleon’s HQ, Oswald screams at his right-hand man, Billy, wondering how one guy can wipe out three crime cells. Frank has already cut through Dallas and San Bernardino, and is now moving on Berkeley. Napoleon asks if they should warn Berkeley, but it is too late – they are all dead. Napoleon wonders how his security system (only one member of each cell has contact with the rest of the organization) failed, and the man responds that the Punisher must be working his way through the entire network, bit by bit. Billy tells Napoleon that Frank is a former special forces guy, and is definitely part Rottweiler. Napoleon waxes that maybe the Punisher isn’t after him, but just then, a message is played on the computer screen: “Napoleon, whoever you really are, I want you to know that I’m coming to get you.” Billy advises his boss that his remaining options are suicide, plastic surgery, and Cuba. Napoleon says that it took 15 years to get his life this far, and one creep isn’t going to take it away. He calls for the Immortals, which Billy says are too expensive. Napoleon says that “exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures.” Billy says that the San Diego boys are next on the list. Napoleon sends Billy to San Diego in a limo for him and the Immortals, where the Punisher will find them.

San Diego:

Punisher muses about killing the gang members all day, then strategically attacks at night, strangling the leader of the Immortals.

A phone rings at Napoleon’s HQ, and it is Billy, broken up and injured. Billy tells his boss to start worrying, that “creeping kinda worrying that wakes you up at 4 am and makes you wish you believed in God and stuff.” Napoleon goes pale and panicks, as Billy tells him how the Punisher made the Immortals cry before they died. Frank takes the phone from Billy, and tells “Oswald Zinn” that this is his Waterloo. Napoleon begs to pay off the Punisher, but Frank says it isn’t about money. Frank blows Billy’s head off and drops the phone, leaving Napoleon on the other line to freak out.

Napoleon holes up in a hotel suite, paranoid about the impending return of the Punisher. He considers transit to Cuba, plastic surgeons, sex changes, anything to keep him one step ahead. He insists that his guards
continuously check for the Punisher. Finally, a man named Mr. Gottlieb shows up with the “answer to the problems.” Gottlieb offers Napoleon transit to a place called “Erewhon.” Napoleon bids Gottlieb good day, as he believes Erewhon to be a myth. Gottlieb insists that he just came from there. Napoleon stares at him, and Gottlieb says “Still … if you’d rather take your chances with the Punisher …”
Napoleon boards a ship for Erewhon, headed due south. He travels by boat, by train, and by foot through the South American jungle, wondering who he hates more right now: Punisher, or Gottlieb. He pictures Erewhon as a five-star hotel for his kind, the A-List criminal, where the law has no say. However, as he hacks through the brush, he finds nothing more than a few grass huts.

An announcement comes over the town’s speakers, saying that to celebrate the continued existence of this experiment in human liberty, the citizens will be given a gift: “the gift they’ve been waiting for.” Some criminals whisper that the townspeople will worship them again.

Harvey Long, an escaped convict, breaks out of prison and Gottlieb directs him to go to Erewhon. However, upon Long’s arrival, alone and at night, he has to run from somebody. He runs furiously through the night, trying to escape whoever is chasing him.

A large group of criminals talks about killing the Punisher, each claiming rights to his death. They argue that each has suffered more than the others by being forced to go to Erewhon.
Napoleon talks with his remaining men, saying that Harvey Long is the perfect bait to catch a Punisher. There is apparently another man in the jungle, charged with nothing more than to keep Harvey alive. Apparently, Harvey is also wanted alive by many people because of his knowledge of crimes.
Harvey continues his sprint through the jungle, where he runs face first into someone’s chest: Wolverine’s.
“Harvey Long, I presume.”

Characters Involved: 

The Punisher / Frank Castle

Wolverine / Logan

Napoleon / Oswald Zinn

Napoleon’s gang: Roy, Val, Billy, others
Mr. Gottlieb
Harvey Long
The Immortals (assassination squad)

Story Notes: 

The name “Erewhon” is taken from Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, a political book from the mid 19th century. The book is a story of a fictional dystopia, where people with illnesses are treated as criminals and criminals are treated as lords. There are no machines in Erewhon, because someone once thought that a machine could evolve and take over the world. Logic is immoral in Erewhon, and things with no practical purpose whatsoever are taught at the University of Unreason. The book is a commentary based on Butler’s criticism of the Victorian reign in England.
“Erewhon,” intentionally, is an anagram for “nowhere.”
Waterloo was the site Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat in France in a final bid for power in Europe in 1815, when the Prussians laid the proverbial smack down on him.
The phrase “Napoleon of Crime” was originally coined for Sherlock Holes’ ach-nemesis Moriarty,

Harvey must be pretty short to run face first into Logan’s chest: Logan is only 5'3'.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: