PUNISHER #71-75 (1992-93): Police Action; 1st VIGIL

Issue, #71, titled “Back in the U.S.A.,” is the first issue of the second long-form Punisher story in a row, and it’s also the second story by the British team of Abnett, Lanning and Braithwaite.

And it’s also better than most Punisher stories of the early ‘90s.

It starts by introducing Recoil, a Punisher copy-cat type who has stepped into the void left behind while Punisher was touring Europe.

But by the second issue in the story, Recoil is working with—not against—the dealers.

He also keeps referencing Looney Tunes when he talks, which is shorthand for showing that he’s nuts.

It’s also an interesting way to show how cartoonish the violence in comics has become by 1992. And it gets much worse before it gets better. Garth Ennis will make the ultimate statement to that effect with Welcome Back Frank. I can’t wait to write about those comics. They’re amazing.

Punisher laments leaving NY, seeing everything has gotten out of hand, and goes on a massive crime-killing spree.

More massive than usual for him. In response, New York City launches a special team called VIGIL. Vigilante Infraction General Interdiction and Limitation.

We recently saw the formation of the Code Blue police force, but I guess Marvel’s NYC believed it was important to have both an anti-super-villain unit and an anti-vigilante unit.

VIGIL and Punisher both track Recoil to a giant warehouse, where it all comes together in a massive gun fight in which Recoil gets blown up.

Then after that comes a pretty cool sequence. The boss bad guy, the goateed VIGIL lead cop, and Punisher end up in a three-way stand-off. Punisher tells the cop he won’t kill him, because he’s a police officer—and the VIGIL unit is never corrupted or portrayed as baddies, which is pretty rare in comics. But Pun also tells the cop to kill the head bad guy. VIGIL cop refuses because he can’t shoot an unarmed man, so Punisher arms the bad guy…

Predictably, the bad guy aims at the cop, forcing the officer to kill the bad guy.

Then Punisher escapes.

Again, a very nicely done story.

Sadly, this creative team leaves the book after this and we get rotating creators for a while.

Note: Only issues #73-75 are titled “Police Action,” but issues #71-72 are definitely part of this larger story. Issue #75 is giant-size and has two back-up stories by different creative teams that are just basic Pun tales

Although Pun has white gloves in one of them…

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