HITMAN

Real Name: Burt Kenyon

Identity/Class: human, military training; technology user

Occupation: Former U.S. Marine Lieutenant; later assassin, mercenary

Group Membership: None;
former member of the U.S. Marines

Affiliations: "Boss" Morgan; former employee of the People's Liberation Front; formerly Frank Castle (the Punisher )

Enemies: J. Jonah Jameson; Punisher; Spider-Man; the Vulture (Adrian Toomes)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: New York City

First Appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man II#4 (March, 1977)

Powers/Abilities: The Hitman was an extraordinary combatant with conventional military weaponry and in hand-to-hand encounters; he was easily the equal of the Punisher in these areas, and managed to shoot Spider-Man despite the latter's danger sense and superhuman agility. He was also a superb marksman and was unflappable in armed combat. He carried a small arsenal of weaponry and devices on his person, including handguns, rifles, automatic weapons, flares, gas and concussion grenades, and electronic tracers. The Hitman also employed exotic devices from time to time, such as his mini-helicopter and jet-powered motorcycle. He was apparently based in a private jet outfitted with surveillance devices and a database, much like the Punisher's Battle Van.

Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Auburn

History: (Punisher: Return to Big Nothing Graphic Novel (fb) ) - Lieutenant Burt Kenyon was a soldier serving in the same combat company as Castle in Vietnam.

(Amazing Spider Man I#175 (fb) ) - In Vietnam, Marine Frank Castle was badly injured by a Viet Cong explosive and surrounded by the enemy. However, Kenyon calmly appeared, gunned down the Viet Cong, and dragged Castle to safety. Kenyon told Castle that he now owed him a life. Two months later, Kenyon was declared mentally unfit for service and discharged.

BTS - After Castle became the vigilante Punisher, the underworld hired and outfitted Kenyon as a sort of opposite number to the Punisher. Kenyon became a high-priced hit man and mercenary.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#4-5) - After his protection racket and his offer of recruitment were violently rejected by the Vulture, a humiliated "Boss" Morgan hired the Hitman in vengeance. Seeing television reports that the Vulture had lured Spider-Man into battle, Morgan instructed the Hitman to humiliate the Vulture in return by killing Spider-Man before he could. The Hitman interrupted the battle between the Vulture and Spider-Man, announced his intentions, and was promptly assaulted by the Vulture. Spider-Man took the opportunity to briefly fight, and thus gauge, the Hitman. The Hitman was forced to deal with the Vulture using a gas grenade, allowing Spider-Man to escape.

However, the Hitman had planted tracers on both the Vulture and Spider-Man. The Hitman soon found and attacked the Vulture, leading the criminal on a chase that took them near Spider-Man's location (Peter Parker's apartment). Drawn outside by the sounds of the battle, Spider-Man found himself in an aerial battle with the Vulture, while the Hitman took potshots at him the whole time. Finally, as Spider-Man and the Vulture battled near a radio tower, Spider-Man feigned weakness and left himself dangling from a webline. As he expected, the Hitman couldn't resist teasing the swooping Vulture until the very last moment, and thus by turning at the last moment Spider-Man allowed the Hitman's shot to strike the Vulture's power pack, defeating him. The Hitman himself fled the scene, and Spider-Man determined to give the Hitman's tracer to the Punisher in hopes of tracking him down.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#174-175) - Some months later, the Punisher, apparently looking for the Hitman, found himself battling a terrorist group called the People's Liberation Front (PLF). Meanwhile, the PLF's leader hired the Hitman to kidnap and kill J. Jonah Jameson, who had been writing a series of damaging editorials about the group. Despite the Punisher's surveillance, the Hitman managed to slip into Jameson's office, confronting the publisher and his lover Marla Madison. Madison managed to run on the Daily Bugle's intercom system, broadcasting the Hitman's threats to the entire office. This drew Spider-Man and the Punisher into the office, but the two broke in simultaneously, and between the resulting confusion and the cramped confines of the office, the Punisher was unable to reach the Hitman as the latter battled Spider-Man.

The fray also brought the Bugle's security guards running, and the Hitman used the confusion to drop a gas grenade and head for the roof. Spider-Man was able to follow him, and the two continued fighting, tossing Jameson back and forth as they did so. Finally, the Hitman overcame Spider-Man (whose arm was injured from a recent battle with the Molten Man) and loaded Jameson aboard his mini-copter. The Punisher finally made it to the rooftop, was recognized as Castle by the Hitman, and exchanged gunfire with Kenyon, but Spider-Man feared the Punisher would kill Jameson accidentally and stopped him. Spidey managed to plant a spider-tracer on the Hitman's copter, and he and the Punisher fled the Bugle's security troops to pursue the Hitman.

After the Punisher explained his link with the Hitman, the two crime fighters beat information out of some PLF goons, and thus learned that the Hitman, Jameson, and the PLF's leader were headed for the Statue of Liberty. The PLF planned to blow up the statue with Jameson in it as some kind of symbolic gesture. However, Spider-Man and the Punisher appeared and routed the PLF forces. When the PLF leader tried to blow the statue up with everyone on it, the Hitman gunned him down and tried to escape. Spider-Man destroyed his mini-copter, but was left so groggy that the Hitman was able to shoot him in the arm, throwing him off the statue's crown. The Punisher and the Hitman found themselves in a standoff, with Kenyon using Jameson as a human shield. Before anything could happen, Spider-Man made his way back to the crown and pulled Jameson away from the Hitman. The Punisher blasted the Hitman, leaving him dangling from the crown, as were Spider-Man and Jameson. Forced to choose between saving the injured Spider-Man and Jameson or Kenyon, the Punisher chose Spider-Man. Kenyon told the Punisher that though Castle owed him a life, that life didn't have to be Kenyon's, and then allowed himself to fall to his death.

Comments: Created by Archie Goodwin and Sal Buscema

The Hitman made a good Punisher opponent, but unfortunately most Punisher foes don't come back.

The Punisher's military past has served as a key plot point for many stories, due to the tendency of writers to haphazardly introduce characters from his service days. Besides the Hitman, others who have been revealed as having known Castle during his military career include:

1. Mike Hauley in Marvel Preview#2. A disillusioned veteran, he died while working for conspirator Mark Christianson's International Industrial Alliance as a sniper.

2. The Mechanic (Reiss, first name unknown), though present in the Punisher's first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man I#129, did not have his past with Castle explained till Marvel Super-Action#1. Reiss served as Castle's ordnance man, and joined him after the war in his battle with the Costas. (Reiss was slain by the Jackal in Amazing Spider-Man I#129; Marvel Super-Action#1 was a flashback.)

3. Cleve Gorman was introduced in the graphic novel Return to the Big Nothing. (This was from the Epic comics line but is in-continuity.)

4. Quincy Jefferson and Angela Wynoski (who worked in the U.S. embassy cryptography staff) were introduced and killed in Punisher: Bloodlines, a one-shot flashback story set during the early days (he is only up to war journal entry#59).

5. Rich von Burian, the Sniper, was revealed to have known Castle in Punisher War Journal#18.

6. John Carmody was revealed as having served with Castle in What If II#10. (Note: This story is a What If, and so did not take place on Earth-616. However, What If stories are supposed to be exactly the same as Earth-616 up to the single point of divergence. Castle's military career lies in a timeframe before this world diverged from Earth-616; thus, John Carmody would exist on Earth-616.)

7. Ice Phillips, introduced in The 'Nam#17, whose connection to Castle was revealed in Punisher War Journal#52.

Pre-Modern Era/Topical References

References to the Vietnam War represent topical material due to the sliding timescale rule. A fictional war in a Vietnam analog such as Sin-Cong would have to take its place. Castle's and thus the Hitman's' military career, though it cannot be in the Vietnam War for Earth-616, should be slightly pre-modern era, however, since Castle's children were born while he was still serving in the military, and died at the age of at least five. Having them born at any point after the beginning of the modern era would thus take five years out of it.

One should note that the end of Castle's military career did not immediately precede his emergence as the Punisher. Indeed, the Punisher's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition entry supports that several years passed between the end of his military career and the start of his war against the Maggia. It stated that, after his wartime activities, he trained marines for several years in a base in upstate New York before the incident with the Costas.

To date, I do not know if Castle's days at the upstate New York training camp has ever been actually shown in a published Earth-616 story; however, in an alternate reality seen in What If II#51, we did see Castle at the training camp.

Thus, Castle and the Hitman probably served their military careers a few years before the modern era began

Hitman received an entry in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update#2.

Profile updated/edited by Kyle Sims with info provided by Per Degaton.

Clarifications: The Hitman is not to be confused with:


The People's Liberation Front and its unnamed leader were essentially just radical terrorists. The members were fanatically devoted to their nebulous leftist cause, as was the leader. They carried automatic weapons, but were no match for either the Punisher or Spider-Man in combat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Appearances:
Spectacular Spider-Man II#4-5 (March-April, 1977) - Archie Goodwin (writer/editor), Sal Buscema (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks)
Amazing Spider-Man I#174-175 (November-December, 1977) - Len Wein (writer/editor), Ross Andru (pencils), Jim Mooney & Tony DeZuniga (#174) (inks)
Punisher: Return to Big Nothing Graphic Novel (1989) - Steven Grant (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Margaret Clark (editor)


Last updated: 04/30/04

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