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Punisher #228: Review

Jul 2018
Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova

Story Name:

Punisher: war criminal part 5

Review & Comments

0 stars

Punisher #228 Review by (August 11, 2018)
This issue creates a chronological conundrum.

Jim Rhodes drives the war vehicle he got in Tony Stark: Iron Man #2. He was given that because he tried to use the War Machine armour but couldn't because of the trauma of being killed in it by Thanos at the start of Civil War II. Which means that the 2 story arcs in this Legacy-numbered run of Punisher must happen after TSIM#2. This fits with Castle saying he thought Rhodey didn't want the armour anymore, and Rhodey saying he just wants Castle to stop using it.

I had previously assumed the Punisher issues happened before Rhodey was brought back to life in Iron Man #600. Jim donned the War Machine armour then and in TSIM#2. Looking back there aren't as many actual references as I thought in this series to Rhodes being dead, but there are some. Eg in #225 Nick Fury Jr talks about the heroes being after Castle because he's wearing the armour of their dead friend. And in this very issue he says that Rhodes missed a few things (ie while he was dead) including Castle almost starting a nuclear war (in the 1st of the 2 story arcs). Which definitely indicates that Fury gave Castle the WM armour before Rhodes was revived in IM#600 (and Tony Stark returned from his Civil War II coma just before that). The recent revivals would explain why Rhodes and Stark have only just got involved.

The solution might be that there's more than 1 War Machine armour. (After all Rhodey needed something to wear while the other armour was in the wash.) (But Iron Man only ever seemed to have 1 copy of each armour. When the main 1 was unusable he always had to go back to an old armour.)

Hawkeye appears near the end with the group who arrest 'Steve Rogers' and Punisher. But he doesn't do or say anything.

Will Punisher continue to hunt Hydra in his next series? And will Black Widow and Winter Soldier be with him? It's unclear, but this is the end of the 'War Machine' run so I won't be reporting on it.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Punisher #228 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Punisher has the War Machine armour and Iron Man wants it back.

They are currently at the secret prison where Frank Castle and his allies Black Widow and Winter Soldier have come to stop Hydra liberating their Supreme Commander, the evil version of Captain America from Secret Empire. But Tony Stark arrived with a lot of other heroes led by Captain Marvel to take Castle in for international war crimes he committed  while in the armour (given to him by Nick Fury Jr specifically for that purpose), and for previously supporting Hydra  during Secret Empire.

Now Iron Man and War Machine/Punisher are face-to-face. Castle asks Stark why he's stopping him from stopping Hydra. Stark says he can do both things himself. So Frank gives him something else to think about by lighting a trail of oil that he says will incinerate many prisoners. Iron Man zooms off down a passage to save them and War Machine sends a missile to bring the roof down on him.

Meanwhile Baron Zemo and 2 Hydra troopers bring Steve Rogers to the roof where Ghost and a pilot are waiting with a helicopter. But as they take off War Machine busts up through the roof and fires another missile which destroys the tail rotor and sends them crashing to the ground. 1 trooper is thrown clear but only survives until Punisher lands on his head. Castle takes down the other trooper, and the pilot seems to have been killed in the crash.

Zemo emerges unharmed and offers to fight Frank to the finish. But he has an ace up his sleeve as the Ghost envelops him and makes *him* intangible too. He's immune to WM's fire but can shoot back. And he can use Ghost's tricks like sinking into the ground and emerging behind you to plunge his hands through your chest. Ghost's technological variation on the Vision's tactic disrupts electrical systems like Frank's armour.

Of course during all this Zemo is chatting away. He says Supreme Commander Rogers admired Castle's determination. Zemo didn't buy it but the addition of the War Machine armour has made all the difference. However Punisher has now turned his back on Hydra, so Zemo and Ghost will take the suit off him.

But Castle grabs a handy broken electrical cable and shocks himself with it. The armour transmits the electricity to Ghost and Zemo. All 3 collapse, but it is Frank's determination which makes him the 1st to get up again. His weapons are offline so he just uses an armoured fist to beat Zemo's face to a pulp under his hood.

However his fun is interrupted by Iron Man who escaped from the collapsed tunnel (which extinguished the fire). Luckily War Machine's systems are back up so he can fight back, and a repulsor blast knocks IM down. But Castle figures the best bet is still to leave his fallen foe and deal with Zemo and Rogers.

But Stark grabs him by a boot as he tries to fly away and throws him against an armoured van. Which War Machine picks up and drops on him from the air. Unfortunately giving Ghost time to spirit Zemo away. IM crawls out from under the van as WM peppers him with bullets. But then a new player enters the game ...

... it's James Rhodes in the tinker-toy vehicle he recently adopted in Tony Stark, Iron Man #2, which proves invulnerable to the War Machine weapons. And then it stomps on the armoured Punisher with a tank tread. Rhodey raises the 'foot' after proving he could hold Castle down for as long as he liked, and then steps out of the vehicle to confront his opponent.

Frank recognises him and they greet each other by army rank. Rhodes says he wants the suit back. Castle says he thought Jim didn't want it anymore. Rhodey says the suit is his legacy and Punisher has been tarnishing its image. Castle claims he's been cleaning up the mess the heroes wouldn't, meaning Hydra and 'Steve Rogers'.

James does the "that's what separates the good guys from the bad guys" spiel. The good guys rely on right not might, because there's always someone mightier (he's referring to Thanos who killed him at the start of Civil War II). And because he believes Frank is deep-down 1 of the good guys he's asking him to surrender the armour rather than taking it off him with his new ride. And Castle opens the armour and steps out.

In the background troops have been cuffing Steve Rogers who's presumably been unconscious since the copter crash. Now they make Punisher lie on the ground and cuff him too. Rogers says there's still a place for him in Hydra when their inevitable plans mature.

Nick Fury Jr has turned up with agents to collect Castle. He tells Rhodes about Punisher using the armour to almost start a nuclear war (in the previous story arc which he refers to as happening while Jim was dead) but doesn't admit that it was he who gave Frank the armour. When he and Castle are out of earshot of the others Fury says they could have been a good team if Frank hadn't gone rogue (in this arc).

Castle is driven off in a different armoured van. But it is waylaid by Black Widow and Winter Soldier who want Punisher back.

Guiu Vilanova
Guiu Vilanova
Lee Loughridge
Clayton Crain (Cover Penciler)
Clayton Crain (Cover Inker)
Clayton Crain (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Jake Thomas. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes

Winter Soldier
Winter Soldier

(Bucky Barnes)

Plus: Captain America (of Hydra), Nick Fury Jr. (Marcus Johnson), War Machine (Frank Castle).

> Punisher: Book info and issue index

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