Thursday, January 10, 2013

What If... the Punisher Had Killed Daredevil?

Questions Week takes me back to a former regular feature of mine - What If! I'd given it up after 25 issues of the second series, as the 90s hit hard with EXTREME art and an over-reliance on certain anti-heroes and relatively recent events. And yet, #26 is by Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell, not the usual 90s suspects. It does feature the Punisher and was based on a relatively recent story though, so that paradigm is still in play. It's also an usual What If in that the Watcher never addresses the reader. Instead, the characters tell us their story in intimate captions (a 90s-ism, but one that can be used to good effect), and the Watcher is merely the Big Picture's only witness.

What If vol.2 #26 (May 1991)
Based on: Daredevil #183
The true history: As a gang war waged by the Kingpin brews in the background, Daredevil spars with the Punisher to save the life of junkie with a weak heart. The Punisher shoots him with a tranq dart and escapes, but DD crawls over to the dying, roughly-interrogated addict and saves his life. He then vows to stop the Punisher's rampage, but gets sidetracked by the Kingpin's machinations and Elektra's return.
Turning point: What if Daredevil had been closer to the roof's edge when the Punisher tranqed him?
Story type: Team Slayer
Watcher's mood: Jamming with heavy metal
Altered history: DD is too close to the edge of the building and stumbles off in a drugged haze, hopefully not feeling the impact below.
The Punisher regrets it. Spider-Man vows revenge, feeling a certain measure of responsibility (nooooo, Peter?) since the Punisher used to be HIS adversary, but Frank Castle is a difficult man to find. When Spidey finally catches up to him, he's more than a little frustrated and to survive, Castle has to shoot him in the shoulder. When Spidey tries to go get help, he doesn't make it more than a few yards before he collapses in a bloody heap.
The Punisher regrets it. And damn those hospitals and their "only doctors and nurses wear masks, buddy" policies, they've revealed Peter Parker's identity to the world. Poor Aunt May! When she reads this, she's shocked. Shocked, and immediately killed by a bazooka.
Well, that was a little harsh. And useless, given that Spider-Man is in a coma in the hospital. Before things escalate, the mayor of New York asks Captain America to ensure that the superheroes will leave it to the cops this time. Cap still sends Cloak and Dagger on the downlow, but the Punisher tricks them into thinking he's drowned. Meanwhile, someone's feeding Foggy Nelson information about corrupt government officials with ties to organized crime, and he's in turn been giving it to Ben Urich. Then both men are assassinated and the mayor resigns. Punisher discovers a gang war's being waged while the press has been distracted by the whole superhero on superhero violence thing, and that it all leads back to the Kingpin. Not only has he been eliminating the other crime families and their political allies, but he's also bought himself a replacement mayor. And then there was the time he let Spider-Man know his Aunt May was dead because the Punisher accidentally outed him. That doesn't end well either.
Insane with grief, Parker almost kills the Punisher, so it's righteous self-defense to shoot him full of holes. Another hero dead. The Punisher regrets it. Next up: Sticking it to the Kingpin. But by now, Castle is weak from fighting guys with the proportional strength of a spider, and Fisk makes easy work of him. The Punisher's a bastard though. He had a Plan B.
Oh man. And this time, the Punisher DOESN'T regret it. Doesn't really get a chance to as the whole office blows up taking him, the Kingpin and the new mayor with it. (Tarnished) silver lining: No one will know he died a hero, freeing New York from the Kingpin's corruption.
Books canceled as a result: Daredevil is the first to go. Then all the Spider-Man books. And finally, the Punisher ones. This story was hard on the Marvel Knights.
These things happen: Thankfully, they haven't. Daredevil #183's COVER seems to say it did though, with DD cut in half with an assault weapon, no doubt where the inspiration for this story came from.

Next time: What if Namor Had Joined the Fantastic Four?
My guess: Reed Richards has to quit because "rubber" is not one of the four elements.


Anonymous said...

I hate when the Punisher is showed as invincible. He uses bullets only!

But glad to see what ifs here at Siskoid!


Siskoid said...

He does die in that explosion if not from the Kingpin's attack (compounded with the wounds he took from Spider-Man).

I was sick of WIf vol.2 when I took a step back from it, but going back was fun enough that you might see more in the near future.