The marine hero

The marine hero
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First Published: Fri, Sep 19 2008. 11 46 PM IST

Frank’s rule: Punishment by death.
Frank’s rule: Punishment by death.
Updated: Fri, Sep 19 2008. 11 46 PM IST
Let’s accept it: There are some things that just cannot be explained.
This writer is going to wear his other hat, that of a financial journalist, to explain this. In the stock markets, when a company’s stock does well, it could be because of: what pundits term “fundamentals”; some speculative activity by, well, speculators; the mysterious M-factor, or the quality of the company’s management; or something that simply cannot be explained. Thus, stock A could be doing far better than stock B though the companies concerned in both cases are of similar vintage, operate in the same industry, are of comparable size, and don’t have anything separating their numbers.
Frank’s rule: Punishment by death.
Similarly, it’s difficult to explain why some cricketers make it while others don’t.
Or editors.
Or comic characters.
This week’s edition of CF is devoted to one of this writer’s favourites although this may well be because his first brush with the character was through a comic book written by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Messrs Ennis and Dillon have featured in the column before, most notably in one that dealt with the writers and illustrators who portrayed violence best in comics.
In 2000, Marvel got writer Ennis and illustrator Dillon, fresh from the success of The Preacher series (published by rival DC’s Vertigo imprint) to revive a series on The Punisher, a character who had been created by Gerry Conway in the 1970s.
The Punisher is the story of a former marine, Frank Castle, whose family is killed because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Castle decides to get back by fighting crime and criminals (and given the context, his punishment usually takes one form: death).
The violence this storyline entailed was leveraged effectively by Ennis and Dillon. The success of the 2000-01 miniseries encouraged Marvel to get the two to author another larger series. Ennis then moved on to doing a Punisher series for Max, an imprint of Marvel meant for mature readers (which simply means that the books are even more violent).
Despite the appeal this kind of story usually has for lots of people (including this writer), and the subsequent extensions into movies and games (including for the Xbox and the PS2), The Punisher has never really got his due.
The first movie starred Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) as the Punisher. The second movie, a more recent one, starred Thomas Jane as The Punisher and John Travolta as the bad guy. It didn’t bomb but it didn’t exactly make The Punisher a household name.
The why, at least to this writer, will always remain a mystery.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Sep 19 2008. 11 46 PM IST