AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #174-175 (1977): Hitman dies

spider-man 174 punisher

Remember just recently when I said that Hitman debuted as a lesser version of Punisher in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #4-5?

Well, now he’s appearing with Punisher.

Hitman takes J. Jonah Jameson and his new arm candy Marla hostage (just after JJJ got taken captive in Marvel Team Up). 

Seems kidnapping newspaper publishers was a popular idea in 1977. Turns out, Hitman is working for the People’s Liberation Front–and that puts him in Punisher’s radar.  As Hitman tries to escape, Punisher sprays out bullets–and Spider-Man freaks out because JJJ or Marla might be hit by a stray bullet.

Spider-Man is a good foil for Punisher, and Hitman is a good enemy.

These are fairly significant issues in the evolution of Punisher, too, because we see flashbacks to his days as a Marine in Vietnam.  Turns out, Hitman also served with Pun.  Still no origin for Punisher, but more of a backstory than we had before.

Punisher doesn’t quite kill Hitman here–it turns out, Hitman owes Punisher a debt and kills himself to pay the debt.  Yeah, that’s a bit extreme, but it kinda works in the context of the comic.

I know, it says that Castle owes the debt of a life.  It ends with a big showdown at the Statue of Liberty.

Pun has to choose between saving Spider-Man or killing Hitman.

Hitman kills himself so Punisher can rescue Spidey. 

Again, it works in the story–even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense.  Punisher also laments Hitman’s loss of life as a “waste,” which seems a little out of character for him.

And speaking of out of character…

I’m so tired of this sanitized Punisher. In the panel above, he’s even more worried about hurting criminals than Spider-Man.

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