When you think of The Punisher, you imagine him standing up for innocent people, who are usually in a bad situation while organized crime takes advantage. The last thing you would picture is The Punisher fighting homeless people. But it happens in a story called “Hidden”, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Tom Mandrake. While chasing some wiseguys into a subway, Frank Castle accidentally discovers a secret group of homeless people, who ironically capture weaker homeless people to be killed, while the stronger ones join them.
The story takes place in the fourth volume of The Punisher, issues 24 through 26. A colored woman named Jen, who works in a soup kitchen with a guy named Paul, follows a homeless man into the subway and down the tracks to find a hidden community. Paul follows separately. Jen accidentally finds The Punisher, who is following the subway tracks for different reasons. Pretty quickly, they find an endless pile of dead bodies down a manhole.
While overwhelmed, Punisher fights a crowd of homeless people by tossing a grenade underneath their feet. Punisher escapes by grabbing onto a subway train car and entering the train. Meanwhile, Jen finds her friend Paul, who has a cut wrist and neck, left to die. She leaves to get help, since she isn’t strong enough to carry him, especially in his critical condition. After The Punisher loads up on weapons, he encounters Jen again on the subway tracks.
By the end of part 2 of the story and into part 3 of “Hidden”, we find out that a boy goes crazy after his 400-pound mother chokes to death and gets pinned down with her dead body on top of him for two weeks. He survives by eating some of her body, and drinking her blood. This was told in the past, as in the story he lives under the pile of dead bodies in the subway, which gives him warm and comfort like his mother did, and he gives the homeless people money for food in exchange for them to bring him more victims. He is the antagonist in this story.
Jen follows Punisher back into the subway’s hidden lair, hoping to save her friend Paul with his help. Unfortunately, they find that he bled out and died shortly before they found him. Jen tries to talk Punisher out of killing all the homeless people, which was his intention. After encountering the crazy boy, Jen tells Punisher to burn the bodies using a flamethrower, since they remind the boy of his mother. The boy burns up with the pile of dead bodies, and they manage to escape.
So yeah, The Punisher fights homeless people in the subway. He even manages to blow up some of them with a claymore mine. This story falls under the Marvel Knights banner and has a violent content warning on the cover. This is to be expected of Punisher comics, since killing is what he does best. He wouldn’t be much of an anti-hero if he blew bubbles and chased rainbows. Tom Mandrake’s art is pretty good in this story, which is something to be appreciated, since accurate depictions of The Punisher are hard to come by. Although the comic itself identifies itself as volume 4, some comic shops call it the 5th Punisher series. If for no other reason, collect this series for the Tim Bradstreet covers. Most issues have our favorite anti-hero painted in photo-realism that every comic fan could enjoy.