The Punisher is Marvel’s deadliest vigilante, but his greatest enemy, Barracuda, is even deadlier. So what happened to this murderous psychopath?
The Punisher has killed almost every criminal he has ever encountered, but one of his most vicious enemies is Barracuda, a man who not only bested Frank Castle on multiple occasions but who has caused just as much death and devastation as Castle did in his life.
Barracuda has the same military training, cruelty, and focus as Castle, and is driven by the same all-consuming hate. He can withstand torture, and he has contacts throughout the criminal underworld and multiple governments. But that is just part of what makes him so dangerous.
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Created by Garth Ennis, Howard Chaykin, and Goran Parlov, Barracuda first appeared in 2004’s Punisher #31, as part of Marvel’s mature readers MAX imprint. When Frank Castle begins hunting corporate criminals who are causing artificial brownouts that put lives at risk, the head of the company, Harry Ebbing, reaches out to an old contact of his from prison, the most dangerous man he has ever known.
Before taking on the Punisher, Barracuda handles a quick errand, gunning down a carful of gangsters and kidnapping their leader. Later, Barracuda drives the Punisher off the road and abducts him. When Frank breaks free, the two engage in a truly harrowing fight along the shore, using every tool within reach. Frank knifes Barracuda through the eye, hacks his fingers off with an ax, and chokes him with barbed wire. Yet still, Barracuda beats him unconscious. He then takes Punisher out to sea and tries to feed him to the sharks.
Frank barely survives. Throughout the story, Barracuda betrays everyone he makes a deal with, delights in torturing others, and casually boasts about his experiences with cannibalism. The events culminate aboard a boat as everyone in the corporation celebrates their ill-gotten financial success, only for Punisher to kill them all, even shooting Barracuda and dropping him into the shark-filled sea.
Despite this, the villain survives, returning in Ennis and Parlov’s miniseries The Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX, where he plays a mafia boss and the corrupt President of a Latin American country/narco-empire against each other as part of a plan to fund his revenge against Frank Castle. The story touches on Barracuda’s past military career, where he was contracted by the CIA to launch coups against Central American communist governments, butchering people with machetes and betraying everyone he ever associated with.
This is why he is so dangerous. Barracuda is Frank Castle in a dark mirror, what the Punisher would be without a code. To Barracuda, only reputation matters. He needs to kill Frank to avenge his damaged ego. To do this, he targets the Punisher’s last shred of innocence: his daughter. Frank is unaware that an ex-lover of his had a child, but Barracuda finds out by torturing people close to him. He sets a trap, and when Punisher takes the bait, Barracuda handcuffs Frank and holds up the infant child. Their final fight is one of the bloodiest and most prolonged battles of a famously graphic comic. Throughout it, flashes of Barracuda’s past reveal a life filled with horrors: an abusive father, a school bully he blinded, a predator in foster care he did worse too, and the merciless carnage he spread through his military career, gang life, and prison. When Punisher finally kills him, his last attempted words are “I’m Barracuda,” as though that alone was proof of his invincibility.
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