Editor’s Note: Hello, everyone. Allow me to be the first one to welcome you to Punisher Week here on The Boombox, a week dedicated to everyone’s favorite greaseball-murdering vigilante, Frank Castle. This week we’ll see old Frank go to space, fuck up the slums with Nick Fury, defy God by making one of the worst movies ever made, and more. But first, here’s The Punisher’s trip into the old west, where his situation is the same as it is everywhere else: a murdered family, and too many bullets to count. It’s not vengeance, it’s stupidity.
Ah, Frank Castle. Living proof that the gun laws in New York are too lax. Seriously, I didn’t know that they were allowed to sell military-grade firearms to the severely mentally handicapped. Now, when we first had the idea for Punisher Week, I knew that I would want to cover several of the many one-shot Punisher comics there have been over the years. Nothing shows how retarded Frank actually is than taking him out of his element. Also, the title A Man Named Frank gave me a laugh, as I’m a man named Frank as well. So, let’s dig into The Punisher: A Man Named Frank and oh Jesus, look at the cover.
Putting the hideous art aside for now (and believe me, folks, this is as good as it gets), look at this jackass. He looks like one of the slack-jawed farm hicks that I see milling around the Tractor Supply Co. looking for fertilizer and cousins to sexually assault. But whatever, usually the covers are done by a different artist, anyway. Maybe the inside art will be better.
No, no it isn’t. It is in fact the opposite of better. I don’t know where to begin. Between the stereotypical bandito (who looks like he’s half-piranha) and cowboy Shaggy (who looks like he’s filled his bandoleer with joints), The Punisher is going to have a lot on his plate. Can’t bash the art forever, though. Gotta move on to the story, and boy is it a wild departure from anything else the Punisher has ever been in (It’s set in the Old West! Can you believe it!?!).
Our story begins with Frank tied to a wagon wheel and surrounded by three bland henchmen. These pigstickers aren’t given actual names, so I’m gonna call them Smokey, Enchilada Combo #4, and Hookbeard. Their leader is the enigmatic and mysterious Sombrero Guy, who suffers from a disease I like to call Lazy Artist Syndrome. Sombrero Guy explains to Enchilada and Smokey that the diamonds they found were actually rock candy, meaning that Frank’s family was murdered for something that can be purchased for a buck fifty at Walmart. Wow. They don’t even bother giving these assholes a good reason for going full-on Charles Manson on the fam. Score one for lazy writing.
Frank catches sight of his daughter’s cross hanging around Sombrero’s neck, which causes him to orgasm violently for some reason.
The mooks leave Frank for dead, which is an awesome idea. Of course, Frank gets up and walks 100 miles through the desert with a wagon wheel still strapped to his ass.
Eventually, the heat gets to him, and GAAAHHH!!!
What the hell happened to his face? I know it’s hot out, but I didn’t think it was hot enough to melt flesh. The drool stream is a nice touch. Anyway, eventually Frank collapses from the heat. Lucky for him, however, he is nursed back to health by Jeff Foxworthy.
After murdering Jeff for being a cancerous tumor on the face of modern stand-up comedy, Frank goes through the usual “I promise to punish my family’s murderers for their crimes, and by your powers combined I am Captain Planet” routine, and sets off FOR JUSTICE!
Arriving at a bar, Frank immediately pisses off the mascot for Don Miguel frozen Mexican dinners. These guys have jack and shit to do with the plot, so I think the artist just let the fact that he was hungry for tacos bleed into his work. Frank then starts a gunfight by revealing his badass new look:
This is still fucking amazing. He looks like a man who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to cosplay as The Punisher, John Wayne, or Silent Bob. The gunfight starts, and Frank reveals his ability to pull weapons from the future:
Now, in order to not make an ass of myself, I did some research. And yes, that model of Colt was available as early as 1911 (hence the name M1911). However, in 1911 that would’ve been bleeding-edge government tech. We’re talking just out of prototyping here. How the fuck does a country bumpkin farmer get ahold of that in a town out in the sticks? Not only that, but Frank also somehow buys what looks like a modern assault rifle:
They don’t say what this gun is supposed to be, but unless the bearded dude selling him this shit is secretly Doc Brown, it doesn’t make any fucking sense. Frank wins the gunfight of course, but the commotion gets Sheriff Oliver Hardy hot on his trail.
Frank goes on the lam, and ends up finding work at a dude ranch for… some reason. Like many things in this book, it’s really fucking unclear. Nobody has any goddamn motivation for their actions in this thing, it’s like they do shit just because it’s supposed to happen. Perhaps it’s a subtle commentary on the state of modern life, and how we do things not by choice but because we are coerced by circumstances beyond our control in the most minute of ways. Or perhaps it’s just an incredibly incompetent writer taking the standard Punisher framework and moving it back a hundred years because COWBOYZ ARE KEWL LOL.
Frank gets his ranch hand assignment from Doublemint Gum up there (seriously, that’s the fifth cowboy wearing a bright green shirt and a porno moustache. How many Old West Freddy Mercurys are there?), and then takes part in a series of gunfights that are only notable for the following BAD ART EXTRAVAGANZA!
What really gets me is that all throughout these gunfights, this woman is front and center:
And yet has no fucking dialogue whatsoever. Is this a shout-out to another character? Because if so, it isn’t one that I’m familiar with. She just glowers like that in every scene, and then eventually stops showing up. Once again, great writing guys. We smash into the big climactic gunfight of the book with all the smoothness of a train plowing headlong into a sandpaper factory. And it’s the same boring stuff as before, with Frank showcasing his Danger Tactics:
And displaying his chaingun-themed entry for The Ace of Bongs.
There’s also this panel, where Frank channels the Doomguy.
Finally, Frank confronts Captain Sombrero (who is apparently known as The Swede), and it’s another generic cowboy with a mustache. Big fucking surprise. Frank plugs him in the stomach:
And suddenly we’re in New York. Frank walks into a crowded high society club, shoots someone, and leaves without being identified or questioned. After killing someone with a room full of witnesses.
It’s implied that this guy was the big kingpin (no pun intended) behind the murder of his family, but just fucking barely. Frank leaves, and we’re treated to an end spread that looks like it’s trying to sell Marlboro cigarettes:
And that’s it. Was this comic any good? Hell no. Both the writing and the art are so bad that it would take an act of God to convince me that it wasn’t all part of some contest between the artist and the writer to see who could reach rock bottom first. They can’t all be this bad, right? What’s next?