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Punisher

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Marvel Comics once wondered why it was that any time the Punisher appeared in someone else's book, the sales numbers jumped, but Frank's own title was consistantly a poor seller. The reason they eventually figured out is a simple one: the Punisher is a villain, better used by playing against the good guys than playing on their side.

When his family was killed in the crossfire of a Mafia shootout, Frank Castle put his military training to use - waging a one-man war on crime. A former U.S. Marine captain with a distinguished combat record who has undergone SEAL (Sea Air Land), UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) and LRPA (Long Range Patrol) training, Frank Castle is well-versed in the arts of warfare and hand-to-hand combat. As the Punisher, Castle reinvented himself as the merciless scourge of the underworld. The mere mention of his name causes criminals everywhere to cringe in fear, because they all know the Punisher plays for keeps - and someday, he may come gunning for them!

Forget that anti-hero stuff, Frank's a villain. He injures, kills, maims and does it all in the name of a personal need for revenge, not a desire to help.

Big burly badass Frank is 6¼" tall, and has enough articulation to scare any goombahs. He moves at the toes, ankles, boot tops, knees, thighs, new-style hips, waist, fingers, wrists, glove tops, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. He doesn't have any chest articulation due to his giant skull logo, but it's a fair tradeoff. His waist is also restricted by the belt, but it does move a little.

Punisher is expertly sculpted by Dave Cortez, detailed from the straps on his boots to the scowl on his face. Frank's seen more than his fair share of combat wounds, and has the scars to prove it. Of course, it wouldn't hurt him to stand a little closer to the razor in the morning, either. Frank obviously works out, as his bulk is evident even through the layers of kevlar and nomex he wears to protect himself. Cortez really did a good job with all the pockets and pouches on Frank's legs.

Punisher comes with two guns: an M-4 rifle and a handgun. These are the same guns that were available with the Marvel Select Black Widow, so feel free to give Frank her knife as well. If you have any of the kickass Special Forces toys from ReSaurus/Plan B, their weapons are more or less in the Marvel Legends scale, so you can give Frank a complete arsenal. Both hands are designed so that Frank's index fingers will fit in the weapons' trigger guards, which gives this figure just a little extra coolness.

When Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (the team behind the mega-popular Preacher series) were given Frank to play with for the Marvel Knights line, they proved that the problem wasn't that you couldn't sell books based around the Punisher, but that you couldn't do it with milquetoast stories. The Punisher is a violent killer, and his book needs to reflect that.

Like all the Marvel Legends figures, the Punisher comes with a detailed base. Since he seldom has call to hang out in the better parts of town, the base is part of a run-down building: boards over the window, a deteriorating fire escape (on the first floor?) and several discarded weapons and spent shellcasings on the sidewalk below. A newspaper declares war on the Mancuso crime family in a fun little in-joke (Bill Mancuso is the sculptor responsible for most of the ML bases).

Frank comes with a reprint of Punisher War Zone #1, wich just happens to be the first Punisher comic I ever read. No great surprise that the story revolves around Frank shooting people, but it also has one of the most inventive torture scenes ever. Artist John Romita Jr. is the one who really created Frank's modern look, giving him a big flat broken nose and tons of scars, and that's the face we see on this figure.

There have been plenty of Punisher figures over the years, starting with the Marvel Super Heroes line in the early '90s. That one had a cap-firing action and just one gun. We've come a long way, baby.

-- 07/11/03


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