Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Punisher Is Coming To Town


I know how improbable it must seem to picture the Punisher in a Santa Claus suit. I mean, the whole idea of Santa Claus is to reward, not to punish, right? On the other hand, if you look at the lyrics of the Coots and Gillespie Christmas standard, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," its lyrics seem filled with implied threats:

"You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why...

"He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice...

"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
SO BE GOOD for goodness sake."

Sentiments that any enforcer would be happy to--share to you.

The 2006 Punisher one-shot (heh, get it?), "Silent Night," isn't about warnings, though--it's about revenge, pure and simple. Junior Calvani, a mobster, is looking to deliver it against Gerardo Falsetti, former consigliere to Calvani's crime-boss father.  Falsetti ended up turning state's evidence against the elder Calvani, and subsequently went into the witness protection program. The Punisher has discovered that Junior has come out of hiding to kill Falsetti, getting the details from the snitch who ratted to Calvani, Timothy "Tiny" Torino (yes, that's right, "Tiny Tim"). We find Torino at a department store employed in a Santa gig, being *ahem* persuaded by the Punisher to spill the beans on how the hit is going down:




So at the Saint Nicholas Orphanage, it seems we're all set up for a pretty violent Christmas Eve. There'll be Junior Calvani and his boys--Falsetti and his boys--the resident priest and orphans--and, to top it off, the Punisher. But, come on--is this comic really going to turn an orphanage into a bloody war zone?


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...



The Punisher decides to take a leaf from Torino's book, and arrive at the orphanage as Santa with Torino in tow (as "Santa's helper") in order to get past Falsetti's men. It doesn't take him long to start making preparations, drafting some available help who seem only too willing to oblige:



And in the process, one of Falsetti's men finds that "Santa" has unfortunately judged him naughty:



Soon, inside the orphanage, Falsetti begins his Master of Ceremonies role. But the Punisher, knowing that Calvani's hit is imminent, has his own plans:




Finally, Calvani makes his move, taking out Falsetti's remaining men and moving in on the orphanage. But talk about a chilly reception (though not for long):



Calvani, now the only one left, decides to bolt. But the Punisher has found some holiday-appropriate transportation and manages to overtake him, plunging Calvani into an icy grave:




But this party's not over yet. Back at the orphanage, Torino locates Falsetti, who bribes him into freeing him from the Punisher's restraints. Unfortunately for Torino, that Santa suit may fool little kids but it's not much use with a man who used to work for the mob:



For Falsetti, this night at his old orphanage has made his life come full circle. The priest had already assured him that he'd received holy forgiveness for turning state's evidence against Calvani Sr. all those years ago--but he'd returned to the orphanage this night to give the children some good memories on Christmas Eve in an effort to make sure their lives wouldn't take the path his did. In reading this story, we pretty much knew that Falsetti's gestures were hollow ones, that he was still seeking a kind of absolution. But his confrontation with Torino has him quickly reverting to type, bringing down his benevolent and selfless facade in an instant.

But don't worry, retribution is just around the corner.


I think we can all guess how the Punisher plans to deal with Falsetti, given that early pic we saw with him facing the barrel of Castle's pistol. Besides, I think we've spilled enough blood for one Christmas.

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