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How Wrong Is PUNISHER #3?

Another response to How Wrong Is PUNISHER #3?

>> I've got to write a lengthy university paper. But something's gotten in my way -- you and Ennis' work on The Punisher. <<

I hope my tardy reply didn't block you, hinder your education, or force you to drop out.

>> I had had enough Ennis of lately. But it was an empty train station and a load of cash. <<

Order PEACE PARTY #1-2 and stop wasting your money.

>> So I got issues 7 and 8. Then I had to go to the nearest comic shop and buy all the back issues. I've read them 3 times over sinse. I am perplexed. <<

I'm perplexed by your behavior, too.

>> Therefore, there must be more to this comic than murder, contrary to what you insist on. <<

Maybe issues #7-8 were the exception to the rule. Issue #1 was virtually unreadable. An ARCHIE comic is like Shakespeare compared to it.

>> Let's just take the Punisher/Daredevil part. You made some really silly comment on it. <<

Silly but totally justified, you mean.

>> Yes, silly, because it sounds very fanboyish. <<

So you responded to my "fanboyish" commentary with a point-by-point fangirlish reply? Apparently my posting wasn't so silly that you could just ignore it.

>> DD finds Frank without a clue because he's the criminal's damn lawyer and knows exactly where and when Dino Gnucci can be killed. <<

I don't recall the story saying anything about Daredevil's keeping Gnucci under 24-hour surveillance. If Castle made himself obvious and DD found him, DD had to wonder why it was so easy.

>> There is no reason for DD to suspect a trap. Frank is going after the Gnucci family, not after DD. <<

There was after 1) Castle's heart started racing because he was about to spring a trap; 2) DD detected the unexpected aroma of the sonic device; and 3) Castle uncharacteristically said "Hit me."

>> When the Punisher says "Hit me" it is an aknowledgement to the fact that they'd had the debate before and always ended up fighting. Or so DD thinks. <<

DD might think, "This is totally out of character; I wonder what's up?" if I were writing him. I don't claim this particular argument is conclusive, but the overall compilation of errors is. Any one of them might've sunk the scenario and there were 13 of them.

>> The electronic appliance may make a small but audible whirr, but the cables on roofs make a whirr big enough to be heard by mere mortals. The same goes for DD's other powers. See it this way: a random man usually can see and hear the coming car, but one day the car runs him over (without him having gone blind.) <<

Daredevil has the proven ability to pick out faint sounds and smells from among the background "ambience." He can hear people speaking a block away, for instance, when the ambient noise of New York City clearly would drown out someone that distant. He can track a woman by her perfume for blocks when New York is teeming with more pungent smells. Sorry, you're definitely wrong on this point.

>> Superpowers, in Ennis' fantasy world, function just like normal human senses -- they are fallible. <<

Ennis's fantasy world doesn't correspond to 30+ years of Daredevil history—which is what I criticized it for.

>> For the smell: there was enough plastic and metal on that roof. As is on every such roof. I was on this kind of roofs, I know. <<

See above.

>> DD attacks the Punisher because they had been through all this before and he knows that Frank won't go away and DD has to arrest him in order to stop him. <<

Actually, DD didn't have to arrest Castle to stop the assassination. All he had to do was distract or outwait him. He could've arrested Castle after Gnucci was long gone.

>> DD attacks the way he does because everything else would be unfair. DD is hopelessly naive. A true hero, American style. <<

He may have been hopelessly naive when he was young—say, before Elektra's return. Since then, he has a more mature view of life: optimistic but not naive. Anyway, DD usually attacks criminals with his billy club first. Given his long history with the Punisher, DD was extra likely not to give Castle a "fair" shot at him.

>> How do you know his heartbeat didn't go up? It probably did. The heartbeat always goes up when a person expects a fight. DD can impossibly tell why someone's heartbeat increases. <<

Daredevil is perhaps the world's greatest expert at "reading" heartbeats, with 20+ years of experience in Marvel time. Castle's heartbeat would've been much different than usual because he had laid a trip for DD. His surprise and worry would've been less, his anticipation and eagerness more.

I wouldn't be surprised if he gave off a sexual pheromone at the thought of "playing" with DD. But whatever the unusual pattern, DD was poised to recognize it. Frank's physiology in this case should've seemed quite different from every time in the past.

>> Frank lied to DD about the bullet. So what? You know that some people can fool a lie detector? I think Frank Castle could be one of them. It's more than possible. <<

That alleged ability is totally unjustified by 25+ years of Punisher history. Moreover, Castle doesn't know DD can detect lies, so he had no reason to mask the lie. He would've lied just as he normally lies.

>> Of course Frank has kevlar covering his butt and everything else. That's why he has stayed alive for so long. <<

Why would he cover his butt, since he usually doesn't turn tail and run? Kevlar isn't like cotton, or cops would wear it routinely. I believe it's stiff and uncomfortable—a hindrance to anyone who has to move fast and fight hand-to-hand.

>> The Punisher's rifle wasn't in DD's line of sight. It was in the reader's line of sight. <<

The readers were shown the Punisher from DD's POV.

>> moreover, a gunshot at the rifle wouldn't have damaged it enough to stop Frank from shooting. <<

DD would've risked it rather than killing anyone, including Frank.

>> Here is the most important part. This is pure interpretation -- from a person very skilled in interpretation. <<

Thanks, but I already know I'm skilled in interpretation. <g> If you're a 22-year-old university student, I've been reading DAREDEVIL about seven years longer than you've been alive. I have roughly 225 DAREDEVIL comics; how about you?

>> The reason why DD chooses to shoot to kill -- if he does -- we don't really know what he aimed at -- is because he feels sympathy and empathy for Frank Castle. <<

Because DD feels a smidgen of pity—what you call empathy—for Castle, that's exactly why he wouldn't choose between Frank and a known criminal. DD wasn't trying to save some innocent schoolgirl. He's let the Kingpin suffer several nasty fates and once dropped Bullseye from a ledge.

If it's a choice between Castle, a mentally sick version of a hero, and a mobster who's equally bad (if not worse), DD wouldn't choose. He'd fire a warning shot, aims at Castle's rifle, tries for a grazing skull shot, or takes a chance on Castle's knee being unprotected. He would **not** sacrifice one dangerous criminal for another.

>> If Frank stopped, Matt Murdock would be free to be his friend. But this is a contradiction in itself. <<

That wouldn't happen even if Castle stopped killing people. He and DD have nothing in common. You might make a case for Frank and Captain America becoming friends—much like Cap and Nick Fury are—but not Frank and Matt Murdock.

Matt wouldn't feel any closer to Frank than he does to Steve Rogers. His disdain for the rigid, black-and-white types—Cap, Punisher, Wolverine—is almost palpable. Matt's attracted to honest-but-troubled souls like himself, which is why Peter Parker is his best male superhero friend. And why he fell for morally ambivalent women like Elektra, Karen Page, and the Black Widow.

>> Frank does everything that Matt dreams of doing but refrains from because his ethics don't allow. <<

Matt is tempted to do bad occasionally, but he's no worse than any hero except Cap, the noblest hero of them all.

>> That's the point of The Punisher. He is a dream come true. Our dream. <<

Whose dream? Not my dream. I dream of punishing the Punisher—of putting him behind bars so he can dream about his failure the rest of his life.

>> If one of them was a woman they'd be having an affair. <<

That's possible on DD's end, since he's admittedly confused about women, but not likely. Daredevil was attracted to Elektra because she was saint and sinner, madonna and whore, in one. Frank has no redeeming or saintly values. He's no better than Bullseye, the Red Skull, or Dr. Doom, none of whom DD would find particularly attractive.

I don't know what type of woman Castle goes for. I'm guessing he prefers uncomplicated, mothering types who can comfort him between assassinations. He might go for a Betty Brant or Karen Page—someone slightly more edgy than Gwen Stacy or Jane Foster—but he'd stay away from a baggage-toting Elektra or Black Widow. Or from a female version of Daredevil.

Also, having an affair with someone doesn't mean they'd become friends and open up to each other. Matt is a typical man who keeps his feelings under control, even with his lovers. You don't see him calling up Elektra to have a chat or go to a movie, do you?

>> Matt Murdock is like some girls I know. He falls in love with murdering bastards. <<

But you don't, right?

If the girls you know are like most girls, they fall in love with "bad boys," not murdering bastards. These bad boys are men who break the rules, who wear leather and ride motorcycles, but who know how to love their women right. They're not really bad, in other words. They're just bad by society's narrow standards.

>> Remember Electra? <<

Remember Karen Page? For every strong woman he's loved, he's loved at least one weak woman. As I said, he's confused about what he wants and needs from the opposite sex. (Unlike me, for instance, who knows what he wants and needs.)

Matt falls for "bad girls" just like your friends fall for bad boys. Elektra, Karen, and Natasha—his three great loves—all fit that pattern. So does his current flame Maya. Looking around the Marvel Universe, he also might fall for Mary Jane or the Black Cat (as did his buddy Peter), Moonstone (as did Hawkeye, who also loved the Widow), Rogue, Diamondback, or Madame Masque. It's a safe bet he wouldn't fall for Gwen Stacy, Sue Storm, Jane Foster, the Scarlet Witch, or Ororo the goddess.

But a "bad girl" isn't the same as an evil girl. Daredevil wouldn't fall for a killer with no redeeming qualities. That's Frank, so I don't see a romance happening between them.

You could make the same argument about most of the great hero-villain pairs: Superman/Lex Luthor, Batman/Joker, Captain America/Red Skull, Reed Richards/Victor Von Doom, Professor X/Magneto, et al. You'd probably be wrong in most cases. Some of these may be love/hate relationships, true. Xavier and Magnus think of themselves as brothers. Batman and the Joker shared a laugh in THE KILLING JOKE (an interesting ending I didn't buy), and Joker called Batman "darling" in DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and hate is just hate. If I say I hate someone with a passion—Hitler, perhaps—that doesn't mean it's "sexual," unless you define all passion as sexual. If that's the case the definition becomes meaningless, because it doesn't discriminate between different kinds of passion.

I was just reading about "slash" fan fiction recently. I bet you're into that, too. No wonder you find hidden depths in shallow puddles like the PUNISHER series. Sorry, Kirk and Spock don't have homosexual yearnings for each other, either. They love each other like brothers, period.

>> I read DD's best adventures, I know his character. <<

I've read most of DD's adventures, including the best ones. I know his character better than you do, if you think he'd shoot to kill the Punisher when he had any alternative, no matter how slim. You're right that this is the key point, but your analysis is wrong.

>> What does he do? He tries to shoot Frank, who is one of his oscessions by now, and a threatening one, both to his ethical and sexual identity. <<

Absolutely not. Remember the Elektra saga and the "Fall from Grace" storylines? Daredevil has been "broken" to within an inch of his life several times. Compared to that soul-shattering pain, which he managed to survive, this silly moral dilemma is nothing. I'm not convinced DD would've even sweated the situation. His choice was so obvious it would've been second nature, almost instinctive: shoot to warn or disable, not to kill.

>> I'd give much to see a development of this situation. But then, this is a Marvel title. <<

If I were writing the series, you'd see development of the situation. Unfortunately, it wouldn't develop the way you wanted it to. DD would hunt Castle down and—because he's human—put Castle through his own moral dilemma. For instance, Frank would have to choose between saving an innocent family or killing himself, which would end his holy crusade. Written honestly, Frank would choose to sacrifice the family because he'd deem his crusade more important.

When DD revealed the sham, it would show Frank he cared more about the killing than about the people he supposedly wants to protect. It would show him how badly he's dishonored his family's memory. Finally Frank would feel all the grief, guilt, and shame he's repressed, and then DD would haul him off to the Vault to suffer for (one hopes) several life sentences.

>> How do you like that, you great theorist? Do comment, please. Extensively. <<

Very imaginative, and it might fit another pair of heroes, but not DD and the Punisher.

>> I hope you don't have a problem with this angle on the Punisher/Daredevil relationship. But seeing how politically correct you are, you shouldn't. <<

I'm not politically correct. I'm just correct. <g>

I don't have a problem with your angle in theory. Many DAREDEVIL comics have explored DD's dark side and shown he's a reflection of Elektra, the Kingpin, or whoever. But DD almost always rises above his dark side. PUNISHER #3 is far, far from a situation that would break his resolve once again.

>> He. I think Ennis/Punisher fans like John and Justin whom you quoted on your site would have a couple of problems with this. <<

Yes, I'm sure they would. Thanks for a most interesting analysis, even if you didn't disprove my critique.


A 14th flaw in the Punisher's plan against Daredevil

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PUNISHER #3's moral dilemma—reversed

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