NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Deadpool Vs. The Punisher #1
He’re more likely to be a nuisance than an actual enemy in the Marvel Comics universe, but in Deadpool Vs. The Punisher, Frank Castle is learning that when he sets his mind to it, Wade Wilson is a stone cold killer. The pairing of the antiheroes isn’t exactly destiny at work, with one mainly focused on ridding street crime of the darkest, deadliest, most corrupt criminality… and the other mainly focused on getting a paycheck and having some laughs (usually with himself). That changes when one of Frank’s new targets lands him squarely in the crosshairs of Deadpool – but the real kicker is that in this case, Wade Wilson might actually have the moral high ground.
Van Lente and artist Pere Perez begin their five-issue series with a literal bang, hinting that the ongoing battle between Deadpool and Punisher will actually have more to do with the authorities and scheming behind their backs than the bullets and explosives they’re exchanging while looking eachother in the eye. Who’s pulling the strings, or how the two will get over the first issue’s final scene isn’t easy to predict, but for Marvel fans, this match-up is starting exactly as you would hope. That is, a completely different series, depending on whose eyes you’re viewing it through.
Breaking ‘The Bank’ – Wade’s Old Pal
Since Deadpool tends to only accept jobs from immoral crime bosses with the money to make a kill worth his while, his path crosses with that of The Punisher’s when one such accquaintance ends up in Frank’s sights – Deadpool’s presence is a coincidence. It’s a clever move on the part of the storytellers to introduce the crime boss in question – Simon Noona a.k.a. ‘The Bank’ – through the eyes of Wade and Frank, showing a warm, ruthless, but accommodating family man to his friend, Deadpool… and the monster at the head of a growing crime empire to Castle. In an added twist, the man’s young son happens to be one of Deadpool’s biggest fans – and then happens upon Frank trying to hack into his father’s computer system.
That sends stealth out the window, leading Frank to openly assault the private security hired to keep The Bank safe. We would like to think that seeing one of Marvel’s most infamous criminal killers bursting into his parlor would seem out of the ordinary to Wade, but as always, determining what he actually finds surprising is a riddle inside of a riddle. Noonan expects (understandably) Deadpool to help defend him… but Wade isn’t the one getting paid for that bodyguard role. Until the ones who are getting paid are all taken down by Castle, and Deadpool leaps into action to at least give his acquaintance a fighting chance.
The shootout isn’t exactly fair, since only one of the two can instantly heal from the bullets being exchanged. And as a result, Wade winds up getting the upper hand. But he’s not out to kill Punisher just yet, simply explaining that whatever reasons he may have for wanting to wipe out The Bank, he’s proven to be a profitable client over the years – not to mention doing Wade’s taxes. Unfortunately for them both, Frank doesn’t even get the chance to beg Wade to let him run free before Noonan’s family runs headlong into a tragedy seemingly crafted by Frank before trying to infiltrate Noonan’s home at all. One that isn’t actually too different from Frank’s own origin story…
Noonan’s wife is the only one who seems to realize that when the man in the skull t-shirt bursts into your home, guns blazing, your fairy tale has come to an end. Because even if he’s stopped this time, The Punisher doesn’t back down from a fight. And most importantly, she seems to know that her husband is deserving of the Punisher’s brand of justice. Snatching up their son and promising to flee this life once and for all, and hope Frank Castle will leave them be, she sprints onto the family yacht.
Leaving Wade, Frank, and The Bank himself to watch as an explosion turns the yacht into flaming wreckage. It looks like Frank has won the day, sneaking off to make his way to his nearest safe house (performing some amateur surgery along the way). Instead of a first aid kit and some firearms, however, Frank finds a house stripped completely bare… save for Deadpool, waiting for him to arrive.
You can guess how that surprise plays out.
A Predictable Outcome
Before Frank fires a bullet straight through Deadpool’s brain, he learns that Wade has significantly changed his priorities – arriving to kill Frank Castle without a payday in sight for the task. The freebie is a result of the fact that Wade actually loved the son of The Bank… and being blown up isn’t exactly the future he had in mind for him. Yet Frank reveals that he never planted any explosives on the yacht at all, meaning not only was The Bank targeted by an unknown player, but staged to make it appear that The Punisher arranged the hit. It’s a perfect set-up: The Bank takes the fall without being able to flip on his business partners, and The Punisher seems to have taken another piece off the board.
But when Noonan’s wife and son were killed, that plan took a hard turn. Now, Frank is still eager to catch The Bank alive enough to talk… but the one behind the bombing might be the real target, having saved Frank the trouble of interrogating that information from Noonan at all. Bad news for the mysterious schemer that the boy killed instead of the crime boss has a murderous pal who’s downright impossible to kill. He just needs to accept that Frank is telling the truth, and they can join forces… which might be a harder sell, given the whole ‘Frank blows Deadpool’s brains out’ twist ending.
His brain will regrow, sure. But even a healing factor can’t undo hurt feelings. Here’s hoping Frank gets a serious head start.
Deadpool Vs. The Punisher #1 is available now.