Warning: SPOILERS for The Punisher #1
The Punisher is going to war with HYDRA in the first issue of his new solo comic series. Highly-decorated Marine turned violent vigilante Frank Castle is no stranger to war, but his activities as The Punisher are usually focused on organized crime and costumed criminals in his native New York City. The new series’ opening storyline, World War Frank, sees The Punisher starting to operate on a global scale, as he targets the terrorist organization HYDRA and its current leader, Baron Zemo.
The reason for Castle’s shift in focus lies in the recent Secret Empire event. Though Castle had left most of his old life behind him, he still considers himself a loyal American and was easily persuaded by the false Captain America to help him in the fight against “America’s enemies.” After learning that he’d been manipulated into killing the innocent, Castle attempted to take out the false Cap with a stolen set of War Machine armor. He failed in that mission, but his most recent experiences have driven home the point that he must target the architects of the evils he fights rather than just killing the workers.
Related: The REAL Captain America Returns To Crush Secret Empire
The Punisher #1 sees Castle taking his first steps towards these ends, attacking a convoy carrying materials for one of Baron Zemo’s secret projects and tracking the one surviving vehicle to a hidden HYDRA base in Staten Island. While he does this, Baron Zemo pursues his latest scheme – attempting to reestablish HYDRA on the island nation of Bagalia while simultaneously working to have the United Nations recognize Bagalia as a legitimate country. He is aided in this enterprise by a new partner – Tony Stark’s sworn enemy, The Mandarin!
To call this alliance uneasy would be an understatement. Mandarin’s rings grant him near limitless power and there is little Baron Zemo can do to wrangle him when he indulges the whim to persuade various diplomats to vote in favor of Bagalia’s admission into the United Nations by dangling them over a tank full of sharks. It is hinted that Baron Zemo’s secret project was meant to give him a means of dealing with The Mandarin but whatever plans Zemo had literally go up in smoke after The Punisher is done paying a visit to the secret HYDRA base and raiding their armory.
All of this leads to an explosive finale which promises big changes to the political landscape of the Marvel Universe. It also promises continuing problems for The Punisher, as Castle’s actions may bring down the wrath of Nick Fury as well as Baron Zemo. The commander of SHIELD may hate HYDRA, but he also hates loose cannons and whatever else may be said about Frank Castle he is not known for his sense of restraint.
The Punisher #1 is now available from Marvel Comics.