The fifth issue of Greg Rucka's The Punisher is a Thanksgiving-themed issue and is, naturally, just as cheery as you'd expect Thanksgiving with the Punisher to be. One hundred days have passed since the end of issue four, and during that time, Frank Castle has been in hiding, recuperating from the fight he had with the Vulture.
The extent of Castle's injuries from that fight mean that he's still healing, a fact that serves as a strong reminder that this is not a comic that operates on superhero rules. Injuries in this comic require more than just a bandage, and they don't heal overnight. The Punisher is not the sort of character who should operate under the same rules as the rest of the Marvel Universe, and Rucka has made it clear with his one hundred day jump that he's writing the Punisher with a nod towards realism.
Also still recuperating is Rachel Cole, the Marine whose wedding was attacked in the "Wedding Day Massacre" from the first issue of Rucka's run. Her own story parallels that of the Punisher — both Marines who watched their loved ones gunned down in front of them. She's where Frank Castle was years ago, alone, still reeling from the loss, and needing a new direction for her life now that's she's lost what she thought was her future. We see them both more or less alone on Thanksgiving, a holiday seen as a time for family, as she reluctantly spends the holiday in a diner with Norah Winters and Castle stays hidden as he recovers, his only visitor on Thanksgiving a little boy whose parents are both serving tours of duty in the Army. Whether Rachel will set out on the same path as Castle — or if she has already — is still left open, but the isolation that surrounds him is already something we can also see in Rachel. Rachel continues to be an intriguing character, and one that I'm glad to see continuing her role in this series.
Where Rachel is only just removed from her life as a soldier (as we're reminded of when Norah Winters calls her "Marine"), Castle is far past what both he and Rachel once were. He may see himself as a soldier, but the rest of the world does not. The scenes between Castle and the little boy are poignant and well-written, as we're ultimately reminded that what he's lost is more than his family, but his own identity.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.