Comics : What If? (Vol. 2) #58

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: What If, Whenever, Wherever...

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

In Amazing Spider-Man #129, the Punisher was hired to kill Spider-Man. He failed at this task, and later discovered his employer, the Jackal, was trying to blackmail him. However, what if the Punisher had suceeded?

In Detail...

"What if the Punisher had killed Spider-Man?"
What If? (Vol. 2) #58
Feb 1994 : SM Guest
Summary: Branch: ASM #129
Editor:  Rob Tokar
Writer:  Chuck Dixon
Pencils:  Gordon Purcell
Inker:  Andrew Pepoy
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Review
Articles: The Punisher

As the story opens, the Punisher is speaking with a mysterious figure about the events that brought him there. An extended flashback begins, with the Jackal and Punisher on a rooftop discussing Spider-Man. The Punisher leaves in order to sever his ties with his past life and study the wall-crawler, as well as to prepare for what he feels will be his first big hit. As the Punisher prepares to begin his hunt, he confronts the Jackal about his outlandish disguise. After the Punisher is convinced that his employer is just a respected member of society, he leaves, but only after wondering about an odd blonde girl that lives in the Jackal's house.

Days later, the Punisher takes his first shot at Spider-Man. However, due to Spider-Man's spider-sense, he misses and goes back to the Jackal to brainstorm. Days later, Spider-Man is swinging across the city when his spider-sense alerts him to Doctor Octopus' presence. However, as he comes closer, he realizes that it's not Doctor Octopus at all, but a dummy stuffed with explosives. Moments later, the explosives live up to their name, and Spider-Man and all his secrets lay on the ground for the world to see.

The Punisher, enraged at being used like that, goes to confront the Jackal. However, the Jackal has already left, and the police were hot on the Punisher's trail. Not only that, but New York's superhero community was none too pleased about the death of Spider-Man, and wanted to make the Punisher pay for what he did. The only ones who were pleased that Spider-Man had been swatted were hid enemies who soon felt the vengeance the Punisher wanted so badly to deliver.

Later, the Punisher learns the identity of the man who enlisted him to kill Spider-Man, and our story ends with the Punisher aiming his gun at Miles Warren, and the police aiming theirs at the Punisher. With a smirk, the Punisher claims he will meet Warren on the other side.

In General...

From the cover to the ending, the story hit all the targets. The Punisher, indeed, is an angry man, hunted and betrayed. Chuck Dixon builds up a good amount of suspense before delivering the story's premise, and then paints a wide picture of the ripples it would cause through the Marvel Universe. We see Spider-Man's amazing friends seeking vengence, Spider-Man's deadly foes seeking friendship, and the media escalating Spider-Man to legendary proportions. A very good story. The art is also superb, especially the fact that all the heroes and villains are in their time-accurate garments.

Overall Rating...

The only reason this isn't getting a perfect score is because even though we saw the effects Spider-Man's death had on the superhero community, we did not see what effect it had on those in his everyday life. What happened to Aunt May? How did Flash Thompson react? So on and so on. Otherwise, this book is what a "What If" should be.