Welcome back readers! Hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday/new year/birthdays (I did =]) and now we're back into the swing of things back on track with these books. Good week this week, recovering from last week's ASM 700 its nice to have a healthy number of books to read. This week I bring you a Punisher book. Thrown into the middle of things with Rucka's War Zone which is still going on, we have a new tale in the life of Frank Castle. This book caught my attention right away with just the cover. A strong shot of Castle and a soldier running from explosions and big letters stating "ITS HAPPENING AGAIN!" Hmmmm what could be happening again? Let's crack this open and find out.
The issue opens up with a flash back of Frank talking to his daughter, he's telling her how she can't just sit outside alone because she may not be safe. Sadly ironic, ain't it? =/ Present day, Castle's chasin some low life thug right on the sidewalk in the open. A narrative from Castle talking about the Boogeyman, fear, gangs. Frank finally catches this guy and proceeds to beat him with a thick candle from a sidealk vigil right next to them. As he's bludgeoning this kid, he's telling himself he could've easily taken this guy out from a rooftop. In silence. Instead, he's killing this man brutally in front of some kids on a stoop. He's doing this to put fear into the kids. "Fear can keep a child safe." If the new kids are afraid of The Punisher, they won't become gang members, or they won't stray toward what attracts him. We then have a full page image of Frank walking away from the broken, bloody, dead body. Castle's covered in blood leaving the nearby children in total and complete horror. Next scene is of a happy looking family. A father, mother, and a daughter. Walking around Central Park. Right at sunset, hot dog stand near by, real post card looking stuff. Their names are Jake Niman, his wife Denise Niman and their daughter Natalie Niman. Natalie's afraid of Jake leaving. She even calls her father a jerk for possibly going away again. We learn Jake is a war vet from the Middle East. He makes an ice cream promise to her for him not leaving. He buys all the ice cream cones in the world and if he doesn't keep his promise, he can never eat ice cream again!!! Every ice cream lover's nightmare. (See what I did there ;]) Next we see a man appear with a gun and cap Denise. Next panel he shoots the whole family and the page closes out with a bullet striking a nearby propane tank blowing up the entire area.
Castle's reading about the story in the paper the next day. It was because of organized crime, just like his family. Frank has a moment of self reflection in this diner. While reading the paper, he asks if he should be feeling something more. Feeling more connected to this man because they share a story. But instead he just sees this as another murder that needs to be answered. He describes himself as the monster that stops monsters. Doing some research, Castle finds out that the hit was placed on this Gordo man, who had crossed someone in a wrong way. Frank's having a nightmare about the shooting and decides since he's not sleeping, might as well find out more on this Jake Niman. Jake was a decorated soldier. 2 and a half tours in the middle east. Has a bunch of awards and medals but was let go. Having military experience, Frank questions Jake being let go if he was such a good solder. He eventually finds that story, writen by Jake as it was happening.
We now meet Mr. Niman as told by himself in his own story. He says they like him in the army because Johnny kills so good. They give him medals because Johnny kills so good. He has responsibility over living men, because Johnny kills so good. But normal Jake, is J. He speaks of Johnny as if he's someone that hides inside. Who only comes out in times of need. J. handles life, Johnny handles death. He then breaks down a couple examples of how different J. and Johnny are. J. listens to Hold Steady, Johnny listens to Slipknot. J. goes to the medal ceremonies, Johnny earns them. Cut back to Frank interrogating some rat for a gang. All other gangs are functioning as normal, knowing that he's on the hunt. All gangs except the one that Gordo was in. Getting the answers he needs, Castles heads over to another diner.
From watching over the diner for a day and a half, he notices a pattern in a customer. going in for coffee twice a day. Castle calls over to some kid, to grab a coffee and have a seat. He's a little resistant at first, so Frank shows him the threads, leaving the poor boy in shock. Castle asks for the boy's name, its Ostap. Frank let's Ostap know that he sees he's the runner. That he knows things. Naturally, Frank wants to know these things. Right away he asks Ostap who killed Gordo. Expectedly, Ostap says he doesn't know. No ones buying it and after a very interesting coffee related threat, the scene cuts back to Niman's story. Its dated from 1/18 at an undisclosed location. He's logging a mission from earlier in the day, someone in his troop must've died. He speaks of Johnny wanting to get behind a gun, how people dying gives Johnny an excuse to come out. He recaps a story of how he won his first medal, or how Johnny won it. An Apache helicopter was shot down in "AssCrackaStan" and now the Taliban has some of those copters. 11 hours later, we have Johnny and one other soldier Dubose left alive, but he's hit. Looking down at the dead bodies, Johnny grabs a near by RPG and just lets loose. Very Call of Duty-esque. Coming back to Dubose, he's given his new nickname by the wounded soldier. Johnny Nightmare. Niman says whenever he sees one of his brothers die, it brings him back to that day. The explosions, the screams, firing the weapon, and knowing his brothers deaths aren't in vain.
Back to Castle, on a rooftop. Thanks to Ostap, we now know that the shooters responsible for Gordo were the Kozlowski brothers. At the current moment, they're inside of a bar. Frank's going over some of the info that Ostap gave him about the brothers. He never told him they were exactly the killers but he gave him enough information that basically damns them. Frank and Ostap have set up a system, Ostap's gonna call Frank when he's bringing the car around, when the brothers are coming out of the bar. A double kill is harder than a single, once that first shot is fired, the second runs. You have take them both out with one shot. And back to Niman again! Dated 7/28 he tells us that he's been let off from the service for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) He tells the reader that there hasn't been an entry from J. in about 6 months, just all Johnny all the time. Trying to drop killing people cold turkey, he agrees to leave. Well, wasn't that nice of him? Once he starts hating and killing he doesn't wanna stop, and that's just dangerous for everyone involved. Then there's a cliche "I'm killing that part of me that loved to kill" kind of moments. But in the last sentence of this segment, Niman makes it known, he doesn't want to kill anymore in anyone name, and he doesn't want it being done in his as well.
*Deep breath* Back to Castle! This is starting to get tiring, he gets the call from Ostap and gets ready. Takes the shot AND......misses =/ Caps one of the brothers in the shoulder and both book it. Castle follows the wounded one shooting up a dark alley trying to finish at least half the job. Pops the dude in the knee, a favorite for bullets, and right as he's about to finish the job, heres comes brother #2 to save the day. Yayayaya, wait, wrong team to celebrate for! Brother #1 hops into the car and both of them drive off into the night that never heard those tens of gunshots. Castle goes to the hospital room of our wounded vet Jake Niman. Niman's been in and out of a coma, but Frank talks to him anyway. Tells him he's going to find the people who've killed his family, and kill them himself. As he's leaving, Niman wakes up, barely speaking. He calls out to Frank, tells him he knows exactly who he is. Then tells him to stand down, that's he's gonna kill those men himself!
Boom! Bam! Big issue here folks! I loved the ending, and my mind raced on where this is going to go. Good thing its weekly so I may just be back here with the closing issue in a couple weeks. Completely spoiling it for all of you, cuse that's the kind of sick person I am. Well, I'm outskies, yo. You all have a good week of reading, see you next time!