SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Punisher #225 by Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, Lee Loughridge and Cory Petit, on sale now.
Frank Castle has made it back home to the United States of America, still in possession of Jim Rhodes’ War Machine armor, and the heroes of the Marvel Universe have had enough. After killing a world leader and causing an international incident, Frank returned to New York and set his sights on the criminal underworld, which caught the attention of Rhodes’ former girlfriend Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.
Now, Carol has assembled a motley crew of Avengers to take down The Punisher once and for all. But in doing so, they may have actually convinced him he should be aiming a lot higher than he has been since receviving his recent upgrade.
The Punisher vs The Marvel Universe
After a stalemate of a fight last issue between Captain Marvel and The Punisher, Carol arrives at Frank’s warehouse hideout with a significant amount of back-up; bringing Spider-Man, Tigra, Beast, Cannonball, The Thing, US Agent, Hercules, Spider-Woman, Quake, Luke Cage and The Falcon along to make sure Frank Castle faces justice for his international crimes. The Punisher puts up a good fight against the heroes, but the combined strength of Cannonball, The Thing, Hercules and Captain Marvel almost overwhelms him.
Fortunately for Frank, as a former marine he knows victory is in the preparation, and he had already rigged his hideout to blow, allowing him to escape through an access hatch into the subway tunnels and continue his reign of terror against New York’s underworld.
Frank doesn’t just want to kill people, though; he needs someone smart enough to interface with his high-tech armor. Eventually, he solves his problem by tracking down a rogue AIM cell in Brooklyn. For the past few years, AIM was under the purview of Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot, who was able to repurpose the terrorist science cult into a force for good. However, the thing about terrorist science cults is that they don’t play by the rules, and enough rogue cells kept popping up that current Supreme Leader Toni Ho decided to rebrand as R.E.S.C.U.E., meaning that classic flavor AIM was once again back in full-force in the Marvel Universe.
Uncovering the rogue cell, Frank finds someone smart enough to make the modifications to his armor which disable the Avengers’ tracking of him and invert it, allowing him to instead track the man co-ordinating the strike force against The Punisher, Nick Fury. It was Fury that gave Castle the War Machine armor and sent him to Chernaya in the first place but Fury’s words to Frank hit harder than he might have expected. Even if The Punisher wasn’t going around murdering criminals by the dozens dressed in the armor of their recently deceased friend, he still willingly joined Hydra during their takeover of America and he needs to pay for that. In the words of Nick Fury, "You're the bad guy. They want to see you get punished."