Marvel teases a fight between Thor and the Punisher – and in the process, makes Frank Castle’s controversial skull-less reboot even worse.
Warning: contains SPOILERS for Jane Foster & The Mighty Thor #4Marvel teases a showdown between the Punisher and the Mighty Thor – and makes Frank Castle’s controversial reboot even worse in the process. Frank Castle and Thor Odinson are incredibly different characters in every aspect – powers, abilities, backstory and characterization – and both heroes have plenty of fans, memorable storylines and even multiple film adaptations. But Jane Foster & The Mighty Thor #4 reveals Marvel’s misguided decisions regarding the Punisher’s reboot may end up bringing the two together in battle.
2022 saw massive changes to the Punisher; writer Jason Aaron spearheaded a reboot in which the Punisher leaves his one-man war against crime behind and astonishingly starts working for a criminal organization instead. The Hand (a villainous organization often found in Daredevil comics) elevates Castle to the rank of High Slayer, grants him command of thousands of ninjas, and bids him to kill all enemies – both the Hand’s and his own. The High Priestess of the Hand has accomplished this feat by reviving Castle’s wife Maria, but without a constant supply of rejuvenation potions and resurrection magic, Maria will die once again. Castle is thus compelled to do the Hand’s bidding.
In Jane Foster & The Mighty Thor #4, written by Torunn Grønbekk with art by Michael Dowling, Jane Foster continues looking for Thor, even as Asgard comes under attack by the collective forces of the Dark Elves combined with other cosmic enemies. Eventually, Tyr Odinson welcomes his master on the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard: Ares, the Greek God of War. Tyr kneels before him as Ares takes in a victory over Asgard, and all hope seems lost as a Norse God bows down before a Greek God.
Unfortunately, readers of 2022’s Punisher reboot may make a distressing connection: in that series, the Punisher is currently fighting Ares, who wants to “save” his favorite killer from the clutches of the Hand. In a classic case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Punisher may temporarily ally himself with Ares in order to defeat the Hand (and perhaps, keep Maria alive without the Hand’s help). Ares may compel Castle to fight the Asgardians in his own war – thus bringing him in contact with Thor. The worlds of the Punisher and Thor are vastly different, and high fantasy does not necessarily mix with the Punisher’s grim reality. Additionally, the power gap between Castle and Thor is so impossibly wide that the Punisher has absolutely no hope of winning…at least, not without supernatural help, which goes against the Punisher’s entire character and environment.
The reboot has this problem in spades: Punisher’s main enemies are a demonic monster and a Greek God, his wife is kept alive through dark science and magic, and he fights alongside criminals rather than kill them at the first opportunity. While well-written enough, the reboot does not fit Frank’s previously-established character and adventures. Thor should never be the Punisher’s enemy – not because the two are heroes, but because they operate in vastly different worlds too far apart to be joined.