Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Punisher Invades the 'Nam - Part 1 of 2

The ‘Nam remains, to my knowledge, the only on-going comic series to deal with the Vietnam War as its central focus and one of the few comics that even attempts to deal with the war in a realistic manner. The series was an outgrowth of “The 5th of the 1st” story which Doug Murray wrote for Larry Hama while he was editing the Savage Tales Magazine and was initially conceived as a real-time comic where every twelve issues of the comic would represent the passage of an actual year. While the series was being published I only ever picked up one or two of the issues as I had limited funds and there were X-Men comics to be read, however I had fond memories of the book.

Apparently as the series continued and sales started to flag, the editors decided to give some characters from the Marvel Universe guest-shots in the book. Perhaps the most egregious of these guest star appearances is in issue #41 where a couple of soldiers discuss what the war would be like if Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America were involved and then go on to discuss the movie The Green Berets allowing Marvel to stuff John Wayne into this parade of name-recognition based marketing. I have not read the issue, but one of the best parts of it has to be the cover which has the GI in the books logo thinking, “Huh?” as he looks at Thor, Iron Man, and Captain American bustin’ through a map of the region. Brilliant!

Of course the least intrusive of the guest appearances were those by Frank “The Punisher” Castle, and it is in honor of Badass Week over at Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog I present you with:

The Punisher
the ‘Nam!
(Part 1 of 2)

This two issue story arc begins in The ‘Nam #52, “The Long Sticks,” brought to us by Roger Salick (writer), Mike Harris (penciller), and a young James Palmiotti (inker.)

This issue opens with Colonel Sharps arriving at the I Corps base in Duc Pho, South Vietnam. As he steps off the Huey, “A 7.62mm bullet rips though a clavicle, an esophagus, a carotid artery.” At 875 yards a N.V.A. sniper known as the Monkey has taken yet another American life. Back at Hill 55, apparently the HQ for the Marine snipers in Vietnam, it is decided that they need to go after the Monkey in order to save a few lives and there is only one man for the job. Sergeant Frank Castle. Of course being the kind of badass Frank Castle is he is not to be found lounging about with the other soldiers. Oh no, he borrowed a .50 cal and are off stalking Charlie.

Frank waits until his target du jour is taking a little potty break and then BAM. Charlie’s not even safe in the bathroom. That’s how Frank rolls in the ‘Nam. (In reality the sniping record under discussion was set by Carlos Hathcock in 1967 and stood until 2002 when Rob Furlong of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry laid down the law on a Taliban fighter at the incredible range of 2,430 meters or 2,657.48 yards which is just over 1.5 miles.) After delivering a .50 cal reach out and touch someone moment through the side of a tree Frank cheerfully accepts the job of taking out the Monkey and sets off with his team to the N.V.A. base in Laos which, according to intel, is the Monkey’s base of operations. Here we get another moment to appreciate how truly bad ass Frank Castle is. While moving through the high grasses along the edge of the base he encounters a bamboo viper...


After that it is nothing to take out the three Vietnamese soldiers who are patrolling dangerously close to his spot and then, without a batting an eyelash deliver a little bit of the 30.06 justice to the Monkey.

Or so he thinks until he returns to the point where he is meeting Morris, his spotter, who he finds dead. He is quickly taken prisoner by the Monkey and his attendants. Once they have Castle in a cage in the Monkey’s cave, the Monkey, in true comics tradition, reveals his next target. Captain James, the head of the Marine sniper program based out of Hill 55. Frank’s response seems unusually calm for the Frank Castle we all know and love.

That’s right dear readers, clearly the answer here is to take off your shirt.


Holy Crap True Believer! Like they say in the caption, come back on Monday to learn the shocking truth as I reveal the stunning conclusion in part two of The Punisher Invades the 'Nam, "The Mark of the Executioner."

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