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Punisher's Softer Side

Captain Punisher: Frank’s softer side.

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We’ve talked about the Marvel Civil War story arch before, the seven issue story had the Cap fighting Iron-man, the U.S. government turning against the superheroes we all love. The entire issue is pretty much a conservative’s wet dream, but that’s another issue we can talk about later.

During Civil War, the Punisher joins Captain America’s underground rebellion named the Secret Avengers. Heroes forced to hide in sewers and warehouses, planning attacks against the Iron-man’s pro-registration army of heroes and villains. Punisher proved to be a key member, not only saving Spider-man’s life after he attempted to leave Iron-man’s side but Frank Castle infiltrated the Baxter Building (famously the home of the Fantastic Four) stealing the plans to “Project 42.” The project being a specially built prison for superheroes and villains alike, being built in the Negative Zone.

Just after stealing the plans and rescuing Spider-man Punisher kills two villains seeking refuge with the Secret Avengers. Cap loses it, having already had reservations because of Punisher extreme past and witnessing his killing of two surrendering criminals was the final straw. Captain America proceeds to pummel Punisher, beating him senseless, throwing him into walls and windows, knees to the face, leaving him on the floor. Cap holding Punisher by the scruff of his shirt yelling at him to “Hit back!” with Frank Castle just laying there saying, “No. Not you.”

As Captain America storms out, Spider-man is speaking with another hero trying to make sense of what just happened, then it comes out: that the Punisher has idolized Captain America since childhood, he’s practically the reason Castle went to Vietnam.

Now whether this is the whole truth or not is debatable, but the Punisher as a strict military man has been seen submitting to Cap during other more recent story lines.  Such as Punisher: War Zone #5 during which Frank refused to give up until Captain America ordered him to, the bond between the two is estranged at best. The Punisher never being in the Captain’s good graces but never really being seen as a bad guy, just a troubled man with a complicated personality and a one track mind.

The end of Civil War sees Captain America arrested and being brought to his trial but never making it inside, he’s shot and killed on the courthouse steps before seeing his day in court. After that the Punisher embraced his admiration for Captain America, changing his outfit and dawning the star and stripes of Cap’s uniform. Fighting crime as viciously as ever. Unfortunately, the Punisher was run out of New York City by Norman Osborn and his personal army H.A.M.M.E.R. Frank flees to Mexico to continue his war against crime, fighting for quite a while.

While wearing his new uniform, the Punisher encounters Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Soldier, Captain America’s old friend and side kick, Bucky attacks the Punisher for wearing the uniform. The two confront one another going blow for blow until they settled their difference, Castle gives up the stars and stripes to Bucky, who in-turn becomes the new “Captain America” for a time.

As hard as his resolve may be Punisher is a complicated man, while his rage fuels him, his heart is still overpowering. Stopping him from acting against his own heroes, his own idols. It just shows that despite the pain and suffering the man under the skull is still their, still alive, Frank Castle is still a human, despite his own attempts at embodying nothing more than an arm of revenge.

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