Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Script: Mike Baron | Pencils: Mark Texeira | Inks: Scott Williams
Letters: Jim Novak | Colors: Janet Jackson | Editor: Carl Potts
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Plot: The Punisher has arrived in Bogota, Colombia, to take out a drug lord called El Caiman. But El Caiman's town is assaulted by "Eliminators" and Punisher saves the life of El Caiman's daughter, Lucinda, in the crossfire. She takes the Punisher back to her father's estate, where he meets El Caiman and agrees to a truce until the Eliminators are defeated. The estate comes under attack and El Caiman, Punisher, and Lucinda retreat to the drug lord's farm for their last stand. There, with El Caiman's full armory at his disposal, the Punisher defeats the Eliminators.

Their mutual foes gone, El Caiman turns on the Punisher and attempts to kill him, but Punisher turns the tables and blasts El Caiman's "fish tank", releasing his menagerie of deadly sea creatures, which kill the crime boss while Punisher spirits Lucinda to safety. As Lucinda mourns her father, Punisher leads her away from the farm.

Continuity Notes: None.

Circa 1988: El Caiman briefly questions whether the Punisher was sent by President Reagan, and a couple pages later the Punisher's internal monologue mentions Henry Kissinger.

Later, we see that El Caiman has stacks and stacks of VCRs in his hidden lair, and he's in possession of an anti-aircraft missile he got from the Iranians, who bought it from the Afghanis.

The High Evolutionary's Plot: Per the first Eliminator the Punisher encounters: "We're headed for the ultimate goal of human aspiration! And to get there, we have to weed out the junkies and the crazies."

Later, another Eliminator elaborates: "[The High Evolutionary] will lead the human race to the next great plateau of achievement! But first we must eliminate all drugs and other genetic pollutants -- as well as anyone who stands in our way!"

My Thoughts: According to the Punisher, El Caiman "...moves a whole lotta coke. He's the unofficial sponsor of the American nightmare. They say he's got a marine tank filled with deadly animals with which to dispose of his enemies. Sounds all too familiar." Well... yeah, actually. It sounds like the villain of LICENCE TO KILL, the James Bond film which came out a year after this issue's release, strangely enough.

Anyway -- I've never been terribly comfortable with the Punisher as the protagonist of his own series. Honestly, I've never been comfortable with him as a protagonist or heroic figure in general. Which isn't to say I dislike him entirely. He's an interesting, if one note, character, and he has a suitably tragic origin story. If he existed in his own universe, I'd have no real problem with him. I like characters like Rambo and Dirty Harry, for example. I just believe Punisher's type of glorified murder really doesn't belong in a shared superhero universe unless he's some sort of vigilante for Daredevil to fight against. (A premise which led to a pretty good story or two during Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL run, and which I hope will be a great story arc in the next season of NetFlix's DD TV series.)

As far the story goes... I guess it's typical Punisher fare, though I've never really read any of his solo series so I have nothing to compare it to. But I can imagine a lot of Punisher stories where he probably teamed up with a bad guy before killing him in the end. And the story goes to great lengths to tell (though not show) us that El Caiman is extremely benevolent toward his own people; he just happens to provide for them by shipping cocaine up to the United States. But of course he turns on the Punisher first at the end, giving our "hero" a clear conscience as far as killing the guy.

The artwork from Mark Texeira is pretty good too. I've liked Tex for years, ever since I first encountered him in the 1999 Moon Knight miniseries, HIGH STRANGENESS -- though this Texeira is fairly young and unpolished, and I don't think Scott Williams is the best inker for him. Williams looks great over someone like Jim Lee, but Texeira, especially a green Texeira like this one, needs somebody with a rougher style like Klaus Janson or Tom Palmer to finish his work.

Anyway, we've learned a bit more about the High Evolutionary's plans, though this issue doesn't feature the Evolutionary himself. I kind of like how this saga is playing out so far, with the readers getting pieces of the story while the characters remain in the dark. So far X-Factor and the Punisher have each met agents of the High Evolutionary, and the Punisher actually has some intel on the Evolutionary's plans that X-Factor didn't get -- but only we know exactly what's going on. It's kind of cool, though we'll see if that premise can be maintained over the next nine installments.


  1. Well... yeah, actually. It sounds like the villain of LICENCE TO KILL, the James Bond film which came out a year after this issue's release, strangely enough.

    There's actually a similar bit in the second Bond novel (LIVE AND LET DIE) in which the villain uses exotic fish to smuggle some rare coins into the country, and has a menagerie of dangerous marine creatures in Florida that Bond uses to dispatch one of the henchmen. The whole "Leiter is mauled by a shark" bit in LICENSE TO KILL was actually intentionally lifted directly from LIVE AND LET DIE. Anyways, I'm betting that Baron is probably cribbing from the novel the same way LICENSE TO KILL would a year later.

    It's kind of cool, though we'll see if that premise can be maintained over the next nine installments.

    Agreed. In a story like this where the villain is the sole unifying element, there's something fun to the idea of the readers being more privy to his schemes than the protagonists of the individual chapters, but like you, I'm dubious whether that fun can be sustained...

    1. Funnily, after I wrote this post but before it went up, I found that all the original Bond novels are available through the Amazon Prime Kindle lending library. So I'm reading one book a month, the most Amazon allows on that program, and I just finished LIVE AND LET DIE a few weeks ago. I knew the books played fast and loose with their adaptations, and I was pretty sure I'd learned Leiter's maiming came from one of the novels even though LICENCE TO KILL was mostly an original story, and now I know!