Brought to us under the Marvel Knights moniker, so that alone should let you know it has a tad bit extra grit to it, Punisher War Zone: The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci wraps up a few loose threads that had loomed over the Punisher books for awhile. Now, before we dive right in, let’s take a crash course in The Punisher’s history with the the titular villain: Ma Gnucci.
Ma Gnucci, head of the Gnucci crime family, is (believed) dead after Frank Castle, who we all know hates crime, feeds her to a polar bear. That doesn’t do her in, though, leaving her to live out the rest of her life as a quadriplegic. However, the crazy old bat just can’t leave well enough alone and focuses all her attention on making Castle pay and… well, that catches up to her too. Eventually, it all ends up with Castle literally kicking her back into her burning home to cook to death.
Now, let’s take at another character who features prominently into this storyline: Elite. Elite is another vigilante, only his motivation for killing is for far more twisted reasons. Basically, he took on this name because he’s an elitist, viewing those beneath him on the economic side of things as trash. He then starts killing drug dealers and muggers, but also homeless people who aren’t really committing death worthy crimes. The Punisher eventually took him out too.
Okay then, The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci kicks off with Frank stopping an inside assassination of what’s left of the Gnucci family, a mister Charlie Schitti , who takes on the role of Frank’s informant throughout this story. Schitti is also needed for a little undercover work, but in order for him to have the room to work The Punisher has to do dole out a little punishment for him first. The Punisher sets up a point and waits for that moment to start sniping them off, that is, until he sees a living, wheelchair bound, supposed to be dead, Ma Gnucci. So… ya know, he just shoots some nearby propane tanks and blows her up, leaving her her burn for a second time.
Not sure of what’s going on, Punisher and Schitti go and dig up Ma’s grave. Low and behold , there’s her face staring back up at them. So what exactly gives?
Well, another ghost (of sorts) is in on this tale and pulling the strings on people coming back from Hell, including Elite… or so it appears. In reality, it’s the son of Elite who has taken on the moniker and is wanting to take some revenge on the man responsible for his father’s death. In doing so, he’s luring and baiting Castle with crime families and what appears to be clones of Ma Gnucci. They aren’t actually clones, but rather paraplegic women who’ve had a little work done on them to make them appear enough like the real Ma. Yeah, it’s really twisted stuff.
Eventually Castle meets face to face with the new Elite and they end up in a fire fight with one another, but Elite escapes when Castle is injured. In need of assistance, he shows up on the doorstep of Lt. Molly Von Richtofen, a NYPD officer assigned to the Punisher Task Force who’s got a history with Castle and the Gnucci family. Before they have much time to catch up, though, Elite’s got his goons right on top of them and another gun fight erupts.
Dispatching with the goons, Castle conducts tracks down the place that’s been providing the Ma Gnucci impersonators for Elite. When he arrives at his destination, Castle finds the “Ma Caretakers” offing the leftover impersonators. Punisher makes sure they’re all punished before heading down the hall to finish the score with Elite in one of most anti-climatic endings. Frank catches Elite off guard, kills him from behind and… that’s it. At least there’s some good dialogue during this scene.