Let’s get the obvious out of the way right now: Untold Tales of The Punisher Max #1 isn’t about The Punisher. Sure, The Punisher’s in it, but only in nine out of 34 pages, which is a ratio that makes calling this a Punisher comic like calling Fight Club a tale of handling insurance claims, or Deep Throat a medical thriller.
No, this is not a comic book about The Punisher. What it is is a reasonably crackling and profane – if not particularly original – little near-noir crime tale about a degenerate gambler in over his head and trying to solve the problem by loading his pockets with lead ingots. It is about organized crime as seen by way of the wrong side of its customer service department, with an engaging protagonist and a compelling plot… provided you don’t stop and think about it too hard.
This is the story of gambling addict Jimmy Frisco (someday I’ll read a crime story about a degenerate scumbag named Quincy Madison Worthington IV… or at least one who hasn’t run for President of The United States) who is twelve grand into a bookie named Shelly, who has an idea for an interesting and novel way for Jimmy to work off his debt. And despite Shelly’s goon’s early question to Jimmy vis a vis which hand he uses to jerk off, it does not involve Old Fashioneds through a glory hole. No, Shelly wants Jimmy – a regular guy who works in an auto body shop – to kill a jockey for him. Otherwise, Shelly’s taking the twelve large out of Jimmy’s ass… which loops us straight back to the glory hole imagery. But I digress.