During the 1970's comic books underwent a transformation from the gentleness imposed by the comics code to more realistic depictions of life. Many things allowed this to take place; one of them was the aftermath of the Vietnam War, which altered the good guy/bad guy perspective on the world. The Punisher is a man that fought as an American Marine in Vietnam and came back to a country that was moving in directions that he did not approve. Heavily decorated for his actions in Vietnam, when a gangster killed his wife and children, he donned a new personality as a one-man assault force. In this story, disgruntled ex-marines are being recruited as assassins for a criminal organization and the Punisher is fighting them. He thwarts their attempts at killing their targets, but the assassins are killed before he can get any significant information from them. All he gets is what he already knows, that the ex-marines are disgusted with the way they were treated when they returned, making it easier for them to be turned to evil. In a story similar to the James Bond character, the Punisher infiltrates the heavily guarded bastion of the evil mastermind and with guns blazing single-handedly emerges triumphant. There is nothing subtle about the character, while he has a high-tech hangout a. la. Batman, he generally shoots first and asks questions later. The next segment of the magazine is an extensive interview with Don Pendleton, the author of "The Executioner" series of actions books. A true success story, Pendleton gave up an early career as an engineer to become a writer, and although he was able to sell his early works, for some time he struggled to make it financially. The final segment stars Dominic Fortune, adventurer for hire, as he starts out trying to kidnap an ex-husband behind in his alimony payments but ends up infiltrating yet another fortress. This time his target is meeting with Japanese military offices and the ex-husband is offering to expedite their attack on Pearl Harbor in order to be named monarch of Texas and Mexico when the war is over. Fortune is also a shooter first, although he finds it necessary to proceed by stealth in the beginning. The violence and brutality exhibited in this comic and the anger of the Vietnam veterans are honest representations of the American society. My wife Kathy is a counselor and did her internship at a V. A. center, and the attitudes of the Vietnam veterans were accurately depicted. This magazine was also a harbinger of what was to come in the area of comics, so it is also interesting as a predictor of the future of the genre.
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About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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