The Punisher: Silent Night #1
December 2, 2013
Silent Night, holy night. All is calm, all is... violence and death.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (excitedly throws his arms out) IT'S CHRISTMASTIME!!
(He snaps his fingers and teleports to his living room, where a Christmas tree has been set up. He wears a Santa hat over his fedora)
Linkara: And this year, I even got myself a Christmas tree! (pauses awkwardly) And a bunch of really weird-ass Christmas comics. And yet, strangely enough, today's comic is the most normal of them. So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Punisher: Silent Night #1".
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "The Night Santa Went Crazy" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Our cover is really good, with the Punisher in a Santa suit, with a kid on his lap who has already identified that the Punisher is not the real Santa, not that it was hard to figure out, since he didn't try to hide the skull shirt at all, unless Santa is actually really a huge fan of the Punisher, which I could see. I bet Santa is the kind of guy who gets really frustrated with the naughty adults of the world and would like to see them get that coal shoved where the sun don't shine.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a city, probably New York, because it's the Marvel Universe, and everything happens in New York, and naturally, since it's a short story about a, quote-unquote, "dark vigilante" like the Punisher, we have unnecessary melodramatic narration.
Punisher: (narrating) Too cold for snow. That's what Maria used to say. Every year.
Linkara: (as Punisher) Maria was the local weather girl. She always used to wear a green sweater to screw around with the green screen.
Punisher: (narrating) This year's no different. The wind coming off the Hudson is like ice water on my face.
Linkara: (as Punisher) The air pollution is like Herbal Essences in my hair. Herbal Essences, yes!
Punisher: (narrating) But really, there is no such thing as cold weather... Only cold clothing.
Linkara: That's stupid! What the hell does that even mean?
Punisher: (narrating) And my fingers are still warm enough to feel the trigger through the gloves.
Linkara: (as Punisher) I'm Frank Castle for L.L. Bean.
Linkara (v/o): And already the comic is wasting our time, as we get a splash page of what we could already figure out from today's bizarre melodramatic narration. Frank Castle, the Punisher, has a sniper rifle and is aiming his gun at somebody. There's not even any background, but a single smokestack and dots that I think are supposed to be snowflakes, but the scene doesn't feature any snow as we'll see, so for all I know, it could just be a printing error. The credits are all tucked away in the corner to have more of the complete minimalism. I know it seems odd that I'm harping on something like this, but we're two pages in and the comic has not exactly drawn me in to want to know more about what's going on. Then again, it's the Punisher. There is only one Punisher story: the Punisher kills bad people.
Linkara: Well, okay, technically, there are (holds up three fingers) three Punisher stories, because there was that one time where he became an angel and that other time where he became a Frankenstein monster and... (stops awkwardly) there was also that one time where he became a black guy... (becomes frustrated) LOOK, COMIC BOOKS ARE WEIRD, OKAY?!
Linkara (v/o): So the Punisher spots some guys arranging to make some kind of deal for illegal merchandise – weapons, drugs, take your pick – and prepares to kill them. However, he stops himself when he recognizes the faces: goons belonging to Junior Calvani, a mobster who took over for his father, and after said father was killed in prison, put there as a result of a traitor in the mob. Junior swore vengeance for his father whenever he found said traitor, and he's been underground ever since. Supposedly, not even his own goons know where he is.
Punisher: Still. Couldn't hurt to ask.
Linkara (v/o): He says this while aiming to put bullets in their heads. I don't know if people are all that eager to answer after they're dead, dude.
Linkara: (as Punisher, holding up a gun) WHERE IS HE?!
(Cut to Linkara slumped over on his chair, pretending to be dead)
Linkara: (as Punisher) Don't you play the silent game with me, mister! I'm the Punisher!
(Cut back to Linkara's "death" act before Linkara as Punisher fires his gun repeatedly at whoever he was talking to)
Linkara: (as Punisher) There! Do you like that?! Maybe now you'll be a bit more cooperative!
(Cut back to Linkara's "death" act one last time)
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, he starts headshotting goons.
(Cut to a clip of the Rifftrax video for the cartoon Christmas Toyshop)
Kevin Murphy: Excellent. I feel like it's just not Christmas until there's been a good killing spree.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He leaves one alive and promptly punches him in the gut. With a knife! I don't think I'm gonna do the "I am a man" punch like that any time soon. It's sadly an effective little method of torturing the goon for information. The way the knife is positioned and the pressure of the knife's hilt means that the knife is the only thing that's keeping him from bleeding out. Thus, if the Punisher pulls or twists the knife, he'll die, but promises he won't if he tells him what he wants to know: namely, where Junior is. The goon says he doesn't know where he is, but he knows where he'll be: an orphanage in Upstate New York at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Linkara: (as goon) Yeah, that's where he's gonna be! Some ghost is gonna take him on a journey through his own past! (as Punisher) Yeah? Well, I'm the ghost of Christmas (holds up gun) punishment! (as goon) Th-That doesn't even work. (as Punisher, making a twisting motion) Oh, look at that! Twisting the knife!
Linkara: No, he tells the Punisher that Junior finally found the traitor and is going there to finish him off. And it's on Christmas Eve at midnight because... uh... um, er... Silent Night! And then he tosses the goon into the freezing cold water with a knife wound and a heavy coat. Merry Christmas! He then finds a big bag of cocaine and lets the contents drift out into the water.
Punisher: (narrating) Well, what do you know. Looks like a white Christmas after all.
Linkara: (as Punisher, pretending to dump out the cocaine and laughing) I'm so clever! It's a good thing this was cocaine and not pot or acid or something, or else this joke wouldn't have worked at all. Well, now to spend the next three hours dumping cocaine into the water.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to a mall, where a mall Santa with bloodshot eyes is listening to a little girl say that she wants a pony. I should note that said mall Santa, aside from the bloodshot eyes, is not being rude or mean or anything stereotypical and staying in character. I point this out because the Punisher shows up and shoos the little kid and her parents away.
Punisher: Timothy Torino. Known to all in A-Block as Tiny Tim. Tell me about the orphanage.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Hey! Do you get that it's Christmas yet?! (leans forward toward camera) Do you?! DO YOU?! (points to screen) Because if you don't, the Punisher's gonna (makes a stabbing motion) stab you with a candy cane!
Linkara (v/o): The Punisher then starts strangling him – in full public view – with some Christmas lights and tosses him around, wanting to know about the orphanage. It seems that the traitor is actually known to the Punisher somehow, and that he turned state's evidence and disappeared into the witness protection program seven years ago. Tiny Tim was hired by the traitor, named Gerardo Falsetti, to be a Santa for a Christmas party, and he passed the info on Falsetti's whereabouts to Junior. While it sucks that Tiny Tim told Junior about where Falsetti is, I would just like to remind you that Tiny Tim is apparently out of jail and is trying to make a clean living for himself. As I said, he's not even being a douchebag to the little kids, and he could very well be, as so many, quote-unquote, "mature" Christmas stories do sometimes. Sure, he has bloodshot eyes, but that could be any number of things and not necessarily that he's using drugs. The point I'm making? The Punisher is an absolutely stupid asshole! He doesn't have to be wrecking the poor guy's job in public like this and risk someone calling the cops on him. The hit is supposed to be at midnight on Christmas Eve, which I sincerely doubt is this night, since they wouldn't refer to it as "midnight on Christmas Eve" otherwise; they would just say "midnight tonight". Hell, Tiny Tim even says it's almost Christmas. The Punisher could have easily waited until the guy's shift was over before he did this. Anyway, the Punisher doesn't want Junior to be alerted that he's coming, and he needs a way inside the orphanage. It's the same orphanage where Falsetti grew up and thus he wanted to give the kids some holiday cheer. So... he decks Tiny Tim! Again, in full sight of a bunch of kids and mallgoers. Our hero, everybody! We cut to the orphanage on Christmas Eve, where Falsetti is talking with the minister who runs the orphanage. The minister is convinced that Falsetti is a good person now, despite some poor choices, but Falsetti is conflicted. He betrayed "the closest thing to a real family [he] ever had", and he only turned over a new leaf because the feds were at his door and didn't leave him much choice.
Linkara: It's actually really heavy stuff about morality, loyalty and character development, along with rather decent artwork conveying character emotion well. (nods, then becomes sarcastic) Well, enough about that! Now it's time for more Scowly McStab-People!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Falsetti must have eluded his own witness protection people that would have stopped him from coming back to New York, but does have some bodyguards.
Punisher: (narrating) Falsetti's hired his own guns to watch his back. Ex-cons to a man. You can tell by the eyes. Body language. Jailhouse tattoos. And it's just as well they probably won't live to tell what they saw here tonight.
Linkara: (as Punisher) More people whom I do not care if they die because they were in jail! (points to camera) And we all know that if you were in jail, you'd never leave, because you were rehabilitated or because you changed your ways! (nods)
(Pollo appears in front of the tree)
Pollo: Happy holidays from Atop the Fourth Wall. Please enjoy some blatant commercialism.
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner, and we then go to a commercial break. After the break, Pollo is seen again)
Pollo: And now we're back. Speaking of blatant commercialism, (a shot of the AT4W DVD, "Vol. 1: Secret Origins" appears in the corner) the Atop the Fourth Wall DVD is now only $15 from now until January 1. Links below the video.
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner, and the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Tiny Tim and the Punisher have arrived, which I just realized sounds like an awesome duo band. And yes, the Punisher is indeed dressed like Santa Claus. In his follow-up to the "Boy, I sure these guys die tonight" remark, he basically says that the outfit...
Punisher: (narrating) Wouldn't do my reputation any good at all.
Linkara (v/o): Just a reminder: angel, Frankenstein, a skin color change. Dressing in a Santa suit is really the tamest thing that's happened to you, dude. Anyway, the two are led in and the Punisher gets to work assessing the area, especially since he can't take any chances here because of the orphans.
Linkara: Oh, suddenly, you have qualms about the kids! What, not just gonna rationalize some child death, in that, you know, one of them probably stole another one's toy at some point?
Linkara (v/o): So, continuing our theme of happiness and merriment, Falsetti greets the two and is met only with the Punisher's glare.
(Cut to a clip of Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series)
Naruto: I AM SUCH AN APPEALING CHARACTER!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Falsetti wants them to come inside to teach the children to sing "Santa Lucia", but the Punisher says they have work to do.
Falsetti: Work? Like what?
Linkara: (as Punisher, wearing a Santa beard) We're gonna make snowmen and them I'm gonna put (holds up gun) bullet holes in their heads to save me the trouble of doing it later!
Punisher: (pointing to kids) You. You. You. You. I want two rows of snowmen, here and here. Each at least four feet high, spaced eight feet apart, all the way down to the rear perimeter wall.
Linkara: (as Punisher, still wearing Santa beard) I am Santa, regulator of fun! Commence winter activity of joy-having! (pulls out gun) Engage!
Linkara (v/o): I don't even... Yeah, because kids living in an orphanage don't have enough problems; now we've got the Punisher ordering them to make multiple snowmen out in the cold! ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!! Given how he's doing this, I wouldn't be surprised if he's micromanaging them while they do it.
Linkara: (as Punisher) No! Do it again! (holds up three fingers) Three buttons, not (holds up four fingers) four! (turns around and points) Steven, you lazy little crap-head! That carrot nose is not centered properly! (holds up gun) YOU ARE RUINING CHRISTMAS!!
Linkara (v/o): The Punisher sneaks off and knocks out one of Falsetti's guards and drags him away. Well, I presume he knocks him out. Considering he just did the Clones of Bruce Lee-patented neck chop and then a choke hold, he could have actually broken the guy's neck. Because the Punisher is an asshole! Later, after the kids have gotten frostbite, they're all gathered around a sizeable Christmas feast. Falsetti makes this little speech...
Falsetti: After dinner, Santa here's gonna lead ya all in some songs an' party games-- like I'm payin' him for--an' then we're all gonna go ta midnight mass at the church an' get forgiven for whatever we did. How's that sound ta everybody?
Linkara (v/o): Aaand then the Punisher hits him!
Linkara: (as Punisher) I'm Jewish, you jackass!
Linkara (v/o): MERRY CHRISTMAS, KIDS! You don't get to eat a sumptuous banquet and have a happy Christmas evening with fun and games! You get to have your kind benefactor get decked in the halls by Santa Claus and no doubt hear gunfire and death and stuff! Outside, Junior and his men arrive, one of them suggesting that he stay back while they scout ahead.
Junior: What am I, a child? You think I'm like a helpless child or somethin'? I can take of myself. An' I'll take care of that rat Falsetti while I'm at it.
Linkara: (as Junior) Being a reckless idiot is how I've managed to stay hidden and in control of things for so long.
Linkara (v/o): The minister says he's gonna call the police, but the Punisher tells him not to.
Punisher: They'll only get everyone killed.
Linkara: (as Punisher) Whereas I will merely knock them unconscious, thanks to various Home Alone-esque traps that I've set everywhere. (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): The Punisher hands the minister a gun tells him to take the kids down into the crypt. The minister refuses the gun, but the Punisher replies...
Punisher: I'm locking this door. Anyone makes it through is going to kill every witness they find in here. Think it over.
Linkara (v/o): And we see the minister sad and silent in the dark, with light from the window shining on the gun.
(Linkara stares in silent confusion for a long time, not knowing how to respond to that. Then, suddenly, he brightens up and dances slightly to "Sleigh Ride" playing in the background briefly)
Linkara (v/o): Falsetti's remaining guards are quickly killed – loudly, mind you, so if the Punisher hadn't been there, it's likely Falsetti would have heard that and fled. Good one, Junior! And because mafia goons are afraid of snowmen or something, they all march in a line between the two rows of snowmen instead of around them. And of course, the Punisher apparently found the time to plant Claymore mines in the snow! When? Who the hell knows? Knowing how the Punisher has operated in this comic, it's just as likely he planted them there yesterday and let the kids play on them this whole time. Any of the remaining goons are quickly gunned down from the church tower, but Junior manages to evade the gunfire and run back to the car. Not wanting him to get away, the Punisher grabs the sleigh that he and Tiny Tim arrived in. Oh, did I forget to mention that? The two arrived in a big sleigh with two reindeer at the front of it. Seriously. His logic is that since the roads are snowbound and Junior doesn't have chains on his tires, the sled will have an easier time catching up to the car.
Tiny Tim: What, you seriously think you're gonna catch him with Donner and Blitzen...?
Punisher: No. With Heckler and Koch.
Linkara (v/o): For those who don't get the joke, Heckler and Koch are a weapons manufacturing company.
Linkara: Because bullets will make you go faster! (pause) Wait, what?
Linkara (v/o): He does indeed manage to catch up with Junior and shoot out his tires, causing the car to go flying into a nearby frozen lake. Junior manages to get out of the car, but he's halfway submerged in water and slipping. Somehow, and I'm really not sure how, Junior's knife he was holding earlier was thrown clear of the car, and the Punisher finds it. He proceeds to drop the knife into the ice in front of Junior... and that is somehow strong enough to not only pierce the ice, but also create a crack that goes right to Junior and makes him lose his group, letting him drown in the frozen water. I'll have to assume the temperature is causing his body to go into shock, since otherwise, why the hell can't he just try to swim for the shoreline? It's like five feet away. And with that little bit of implausibility out of the way, the Punisher has this remark...
Punisher: You've been under a long time, Junior... May as well stay there.
Linkara: I guess he gave him... (puts on a pair of sunglasses) the cold shoulder.
The Who: (audio from "Won't Get Fooled Again" (the theme for CSI Miami)) YEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!
Linkara (v/o): And because this story hasn't had enough misery and death in it, Tiny Tim goes to Falsetti and offers to free him from some handcuffs if he'll give him money. Falsetti agrees and Tim does indeed free him, but then Falsetti recognizes Tim and stabs him, realizing that he was the one who told Junior where to find him. Fleeing from that, he runs straight into the Punisher, who drags Falsetti out of the house. Falsetti pleads for his life.
Falsetti: Fer the love of God, it's Christmas Day! What about peace on Earth an' goodwill ta all men...?
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Falsetti dead in the snow, being discovered there by the minister and the children, with the Santa outfit put on him.
Punisher: Maybe next year.
Linkara: And thus, the true meaning of Christmas is revealed: violence and death! (snaps comic shut and holds it up angrily) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): It's so... joyless! What is the point?! Oh, the Punisher goes around killing people while vaguely Christmasy things happen! People suck, criminals are assholes, and the Punisher shoots people. What are you supposed to take away from this?! Look, I can understand unconventional Christmas stories, but even Die Hard, which also features evil people being killed in a slightly Christmasy environment had more happiness occurring than this thing! Where's the love?! Where the's humanity?!
(Cut to a clip of Blackadder's Christmas Carol)
Baldrick: Where's the milk of human kindness?
Ebenezer Blackadder: It's gone off, Baldrick. It stinks.
Linkara: I do not get this comic! It's the equivalent of somebody saying "Happy Holidays" to somebody and then getting (holds up fist) the finger in response! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
I do find it ironic that Falsetti killed Tiny Tim for betraying him considering Junior wanted to kill Falsetti for betraying someone. I'd kill [sic] it poetic irony but somehow I doubt it was deliberate.
You know, there are entire Punisher comics detailing just how many criminals he's killed over the years. I'm actually surprised any organized crimes still exist in the Marvel Universe.
Then again, maybe that's why in 2099 they needed to have just plain crazy people around to kill Punisher 2099's family.
(Stinger: The comic's cover is shown again, displaying the title)
Linkara (v/o): So... is there any reason why this comic is called "Silent Night", other than having the title tie in to Christmas?