Back Issues: "The Punisher" - "One Way Fare" (vol.2, #45, '91)
- by Señor Editor, 27 September 2013
It's BACK ISSUES, and this time around it's a Marvel one. I always liked the Punisher, I got into the comics in the early '90s, back when he was still one of Marvel's biggest hits. I was reading the current issues as well as buying back issues, and one of my favorite stories back then was the gruesome "One Way Fare", published in issue 45, in 1991.
This is a standalone issue, featuring one complete story, as it often happened in Punisher comics in those days. As the story begins, Frank is watching the news. It's bad news: Delbert Rogofsky, a well known thug, resonsible for killing an innocent child, got out on bail! The Punisher doesn't like that at all, and knowing the criminal will probably lay low now, he decides to keep an eye on him. But that's not the only problem on Castle's mind this issue - somebody has been murdering taxi drivers in Brooklyn for a few weeks now, and Frank wants to put a stop to it by baiting the murderer into his custom-made cab (which, we soon learn, Micro outfitted with a few special surprises!)
When the Punisher hits the road in his brand new cab from Micro, that's when the real beauty of this comic begins to show. Both in the art and in Dixon's writing.
When Castle leaves the diner two things happen: first, he gets a new client. A lady wants him to take her to Queens. Frank obliges, but soon after he gets a call from Micro, who says the cops spotted Rogofsky and his boys, all packing guns, and are in pursuit. Frank tells the lady he'll drop her off, but they're in a bad neighborhood so she wants to stay. He takes her along for the ride as he pursues Rogofsky.
After a few pages of good chase scenes on the highway, with the bad guys shooting up Frank's bulletproof cab, he uses one of the surprises Micro installed in the car to dispose of his enemies: strobe lights. This causes Rogofsky to crash his car.
After the gang is either dead or crippled to the point where they will never pose a threat to anybody, Castle turns the meter back on and wants to take his passenger to her destination. That's when she pulls a gun on him.
This is where this thing gets quite dark. The Punisher tries to talk the woman out of shooting him, while she begins to fall apart. She tells him that she once had problems with her car in a really bad part of the town. She tried to stop a taxi, but none of them even slowed down. She had to walk home from there, late at night, when she was assaulted and raped. She's been killing taxi drivers since then, living out her own vendetta. She is clearly losing her grip, reliving what happened to her, and has decided on killing Frank, just another taxi driver as far as she sees it. And then this happens:
Frank uses the last of the surprises Micro built in ...I first read this when I was 7 and I was blown away, much like Frank's passenger. That's some grim stuff, and one of the darker endings in Punisher stories at that time. It's brutal as hell and quite shocking, but pretty well executed and Dixon manages to build some parallels with the lady's quest for vengeance and Frank's.
So yeah. You have to keep your judgment clear. Thank you for the lesson, Frank. It wasn't very subtle (especially the part where he radioes Micro and tells him to have the hose ready, at the end...) but it sure is a good issue. The first ongoing Punisher series had some gems, but for some reason this one is the most memorable for me. Look for it in the back issue bins!
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