136 Here Is A Book That Has Pictures In It That I Read This Wednesday (2/11/2010)
Among other things The Punisher is a story about family. Frank Castle, Vietnam veteran, had a wife and kids that were murdered by the mob, which in turn leads Castle down a dark path of violence and torture. Without his family his life will never be the same, and even after exacting justice against the men who did the deed he can’t stop. Each criminal’s life is another piece of revenge against the people who did him wrong. The targets change but his motivations remain the same.
Wilson Fisk is an absolute monster, but also a family man at heart. While the future Kingpin is cunning and ruthless the scenes here with his family are very genuine and even sweet. As we saw in issue 2 his father was an abusive man and that relationship has shaped the way Wilson lives. Yes, he’s tough, and his past is what made him that way; but he won’t be tough on his family. That’s an important distinction. If we’re to compare these versions of the characters with their core Marvel universe counterparts Fisk’s love for his wife may be his undoing, as Vanessa is as shrewd as Wilson, if not more so. But for now we see the Fisks’ personal life as somewhat normal, and Wilson’s machinations serve to improve the lives of the ones he loves. As his plan comes to a head and he fears for his family’s life, he pleads with his wife, “Please. You’ve gotta go. Rigoletto’s going to be looking for me.” As his phone rings he assumes Rigoletto’s already on him, but when he answers it’s the Punisher, standing outside. Fisk’s life hits close to home for Frank: “I know you got a wife and kid up there, Fisk. Come down and we’ll finish this on the street.”
One imagines that at some point the Mennonite was like Fisk, using any means necessary to rise through the ranks of organized crime. Now, however, he and his family live in a Mennonite community, his wife terminally ill and his children on the cusp of losing their mother. He sees them poking through the yard, finding his old gun which he proceeds to bury. You don’t know much about this character but you get the impression he’s trying to escape a violent past. However when the past comes calling, with a sick wife and two kids, the Mennonite answers. Rigoletto wants him to kill the Punisher, and he’ll do it– but he’ll only use tools his religion allows, trying to keep some distance between his life now and the man he used to be.
Three men, thematically similar, on three different paths. Castle is trying to avenge his family, with no end in sight to his pain. Fisk is starting out, trying to provide for his family. The Mennonite is trying to protect his family and his new life. Jason Aaron weaves these three stories together wonderfully, keeping Castle as the thematic backbone to an issue about two family men making amends with another family.