Punisher – Captain America: Blood and Glory #3 (December 1992)

This issue concludes the miniseries that brings Captain America and the Punisher together for the first time as partners, to combat a government conspiracy involving money, drugs, guns, and fascism abroad and at home. Just as the first issue ended with Frank (unsuccessfully) assassinating Cap, the second issue ended with General Navatilas, the dictator of the fictional South American country Medisuela, and his co-conspirator, the United States attorney general Roger Mollech, preparing to execute Cap, whom they captured after he and Frank were caught in an explosion.

They didn’t find Frank, though, who we see below making good use of the mighty shield—which Cap tossed to him just before the explosion, saving his life while exposing himself to the blast.

Let’s turn to Cap, who’s hanging out with a few of Navatilas’ men, reflecting on the irony that he’s fighting for the well-being of the US and Medisuela, and being persecuted for it by leaders of both.

And in great pain, I should add—although he’ll never show it, as revealed by his smirk below as he silently mocks his torturers.

He hears a covert signal from the friend, and remembers how he first learned to decipher it.

Once he knows help is on the way, Cap decides to unmute his comments, and gets a chance to sit down, taking the strain off his wrists, arms, and shoulders.

(If you’re old like me, you’ll remember the Vidal Sassoon commercials the thug is quoting above.)

While the men prepare to kill Cap with a sack of rice, the shield flies into the room, distracting them enough for Cap to “disarm” their weapon.

The thugs are too worried about the rice—Veneno must really like his rice—because they don’t notice their captive preparing to attack, much less the explosive Frank planted on the shield.

Cap takes advantage of the shield’s ricochet to sever the chain linking him to the ceiling…

…and then stops it from hitting the last of Navatilas’ men before taking him out himself (much more gently, one can imagine).

After Frank appears, Cap thanks him for looking after their mutual ally, then needles him a bit about coming around to the side of angels (before saving him from meeting them too soon).

The two men come under fire, and when Cap realizes that the weapons in front of them, as well as the ones their attackers are using, are the faulty ones provided by the US government, he tries to warn them, but too late.

Cap acknowledges that corrupt US government officials are behind this, to which Frank mutters a snide response about people “wrapping themselves in the flag” (referring only to Cap’s costume, I trust, not his character).

Perhaps the most surprising part of the issue comes next, when Cap and Frank reflect on their formative years, both of them feeling used by the US government to a certain extent. Cap remembers the ubiquitous enrollment propaganda in the early 1940s, which wasn’t necessary to inspire him to try to enlist…

…but which he became a part of after becoming the symbol of liberty, in the starkest depiction of the Project Rebirth process ever. (It’s odd that his thoughts refer to the war “stretching out,” given that he became Cap before the US even entered the war, although it had been raging in Europe for several years.)

This situation has made our hero more cynical than ever—at least since the Secret Empire incident forced him to abandon his Captain America identity for a while—but it’s understandable, having been forged in war, a war commonly regarded as the last “good war” (although Cap questioned that in the first issue), and now trying to stop corrupt parties in his own government from plunging the country into a war for the worst of reasons.

After Frank reviews his own early experiences, Cap asks him what he fights for now, and his answer sounds like Batman if Batman indulged his worst impulses.

Yeah, me too! <wince>

After we see the US attorney general reveal his true plan for Medisuela—overthrowing Navatilas after leaking to the press that he executed Captain America, so he can install his own dictator in his place, a plan that is opposed by the current US president—he sends military helicopters to invade the country, the effects of which Cap recognizes all too well.

Cap has good news for Frank…

…although Cap calls the situation for what it is. (In case it’s too small to read on your electronic device of choice, his thoughts below are: “But now the stars and stripes fighting a war with the tactics of Nazis.”)

Of course, Cap grabs hold of one the choppers, grateful for the opportunity to contribute this time around, and gives Frank some advice that elicits a clever response (certainly better than his one above).

Do you doubt Cap can take down two Apache helicopters singlehandedly? Of course you don’t, but the pilots do.

Instead, they place bets on whether Cap will survive.

Are these guys predecessors of the “tracksuit mafia” from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comic (and the Disney+ show)? I think so, bro, I think so.

As we see above, Cap does successfully make it to the ground, only to get walloped by (what I assume is) the tail of the chopper. (Ouch.) Below, one of the pilots takes advantage of Cap’s condition by pounding his head into the ground, while Cap, ever defiant, lets him know what he thinks of him.

The impending profanity (“Language!“) inspires Cap to land a final blow—but it isn’t Cap’s elbow that proves fatal.

Before the man succumbs, Cap corrects an error that offends him even more than pottymouth.

Meanwhile, other members of the Defense Intelligence Agency (whom we first met in issue #1) killed Navatilas before being killed themselves by the Punisher. (“When the Cap’s away, the mice will play,” or something.) When Cap and Frank learn about the attorney general’s involvement, they catch up with his plane, and Cap takes down yet another aircraft this fine day.

While Mollech’s assistant Ms. Stone runs away, a manic Captain America confronts the attorney general himself, sounding more like Frank than ever.

I’ll leave it to you to guess what Frank does when he’s reunited with the woman who recruited him to assassinate Cap in issue #1. (It shouldn’t be difficult.)

Cap expresses his rage to Mollech both verbally and physically, making clear how deeply Cap is hurt by the attorney general’s betrayal of his country for his own benefit.

Luckily Cap pulls back before he goes too far, although he appreciates that Mollech doesn’t realize that—and even Frank has to say “whoa, enough.”

Frank continues, finally revealing the respect and admiration he has for Captain America that is familiar from more recent interactions (such as the famous scene from Civil War #6 where he refuses to fight back against Cap). Cap turns Frank’s argument back against him, but Frank feels he is too different, and too fallen already…

…although the punishment he delivers to the attorney general is surprisingly lenient.

We next move to Arlington National Ceremony, where Cap explains a solemn ceremony and anticipates his own end, expressed with his characteristic humility.

He tells Frank he recommended the Justice Department “lose” any record of Frank trying to, you know, kill him and all…

…and Frank gives Cap a symbol of the war he missed, but to which Frank thinks he would have made a valuable contribution (recalling memorable wording from the first issue).

Finally, Cap and Frank exchange salutes as fellow soldiers, signalling that, in that sense, they are one and the same, equals among soldiers everywhere.


ISSUE DETAILS

Punisher – Captain America: Blood and Glory #3, December 1992: D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writer), Klaus Janson (pencils and inks), Judy Johnson and Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (colors), John Workman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Blood and Glory.


PREVIOUS ISSUE: Punisher – Captain America: Blood and Glory #2 (November 1992)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #410 and Guardians of the Galaxy #31 and Excalibur #59 (December 1992)

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