Friday, December 21, 2018

I swear, I've seen Frank in a Santa suit more than Superman, Batman, maybe more than Santa at this point.


A beloved holiday tradition, somehow: Frank Castle, the Punisher, dressed up as Santa Claus. What could be more festive...if you like red, anyway. From 2005, Punisher: Red Xmas #1, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, pencils by Mark Texeira, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti.

Frank is Santa'd up for the first three pages of this one, as he uses the disguise to gun down a passel of mobsters; then glibly tell a crying child "they were naughty." (It's done for a joke, but operationally speaking there's no way Frank would start a firefight with bystanders that close; and as a dad there's no way he'd be so callous to a kid.) A newly minted batch of mob widows aren't about to take that lying down, though: their ringleader notes "our generation has become more proactive in the business, and I see no reason anything should change." Step one: everyone chips in five hundred large, for Suspiria. Not that one, or the original; but a Sicilian super hit-woman. (Have I seen Suspiria? I kinda thought I had seen the original, now I'm not sure.)

Come New Year's Eve, Frank murders another pile of generic mob guys at a strip club, again not really giving a lot of thought to noncombatants; but he's done and home before midnight. Just in time to see the news: Suspiria claims to have planted bombs under Times Square, and was sniping a civilian every two minutes until the Punisher arrives. The cops have halfway done their jobs: they haven't found any bombs yet, and have Suspiria in their sights, but can't take her out until they know for sure. Frank may have not caught that part about the bombs, or it wasn't reported; and goes and snipes her himself. Or so he thinks: the sniper was Suspiria's assistant, drawing Frank out so Suspiria can follow him home and try to kill him. She might get a little too cute, though: instead of lobbing multiple grenades at Frank, she asks him (in Sicilian) to "come play with me," and kisses, then bites him during the fight. Yeah, Elektra she ain't...

Frank catches Suspiria by slamming a window on her leg, then putting a bullet in it. Tied up, she refuses to give up her employers; unless Frank will kiss her, then sure! The next morning, Frank drops Suspiria either off a roof or out a window, onto the head mob widow's car. She calls the others, which just gets them all in one place for Frank, but she's still defiant even shot multiple times: "Better one day as a lion than a hundred as a sheep." Frank's answer is "whatever" and a stiff kick out yet another window. The remaining mob widows are granted a (somewhat surprising, and rather undeserved) stay of execution, as Frank gives them 24 hours to leave the country; but tells them they have to leave a donation for the families of the Times Square victims with a particular Santa before they go. Amusingly, their 'donations' wouldn't be out of place in Scrooge McDuck's money bin, apparently including actual coins...

Huh, this was actually from the same year as Ennis's the Cell, although that one was Marvel MAX and Red Xmas was Marvel Knights. Not quite like going from a hard-R to PG-13, but close. Meanwhile, I just rolled all the way back through the Punisher tag and didn't have any of his other Santa appearances here? Well, rest assured, there were a bunch of times. Enough times that it would be a legit action figure variant. Anyway, this weekend's my Christmas, then next week we'll start with "The End" week of last issues! And we've got a few with Frank there as well.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

You've definitely got a point there. Frank's definitely dressed up more times as Santa than any other superhero. Sounds like a good story though here, and man, we really don't get enough Mark Texiera art anymore, especially @ Marvel.