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Promotional art for Barracuda in The Punisher vol. 6, #50 (2007).
Art by Howard Chaykin.
|First appearance||The Punisher vol. 6, #31 (May 2006)|
|Created by||Garth Ennis
Highly trained in armed and unarmed combat
Exceptional strength and endurance
Barracuda is a fictional American comic book character owned by Marvel Comics who opposes the Punisher. He is a mercenary gangster of great physical strength, endurance, fighting ability, and exceptional intelligence. He shows an incredible sense of optimism and "glass half full" thinking (even maintaining a cheerful attitude as the Punisher cut off all the fingers on his right hand), profane humor, and a tendency to betray anyone if he can benefit from it. He first appeared in The Punisher vol. 6, #31 (May 2006).
At a panel at the 2008 Philadelphia Wizard World comic convention, Garth Ennis stated that the basis for the character of Barracuda was the song "Stagger Lee", especially the version recorded by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Although his first appearance was in the closing panels of The Punisher vol. 6, #31, he became a primary character in the ensuing story arc in the following issue #32. After a six-issue story arc in The Punisher, Barracuda starred in an eponymous 5-issue mini-series in the MAX title Punisher Presents: Barracuda (2007).
Fictional character biography
Barracuda grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, the eldest of two brothers and a sister. His father served in the 827th tank destroyer battalion during WWII. An abusive alcoholic, his father burned Barracuda's hand on a grill while telling him to be "hard as the motherfucking world itself" the night before abandoning his family.
Barracuda cared for his brother and sister for some time. The brother ended up deceased and the sister became a prostitute and narcotics user.
He got into a fight in elementary school where he shoved his thumbs into a classmate's eyes. After castrating a would-be attacker while in a youth detention center, Barracuda was recruited by the U.S. Army. As a Green Beret, Barracuda's A-team helped the CIA install Leopoldo Luna, a South American dictator in the 1980s. He was also responsible for drug-running in Nicaragua to fund the Contras and committed atrocities against local villages to ensure no resistance; when Colonel Nick Fury investigated, Barracuda humiliated him by making it clear that the CIA and Congress would bury any report, as it implicated too many people. The team went AWOL in Central America after that, though Fury was able to find and assault him five years later. According to his recollection, in another mission in Africa he engaged in cannibalism to prove his masculinity.
After leaving the service, he became a feared gangster. At one point he was arrested at the site of a gangland massacre. He had been snorting lines of coke off a severd head. He spent time in jail afterward where he struck a profitable partnership with Harry Ebbing, a corrupt and violent corporate CEO.
Fighting the Punisher
Years later Ebbing hires him to assassinate the Punisher, who is investigating Ebbing's corporation, Dynaco. Ebbing plans to sabotage Florida's power grid for profit. The Punisher wishes to stop this plan because it would cause the deaths of innocent people.
During his fight with the Punisher, Barracuda loses an eye and the fingers on his right hand. Although Barracuda wins the fight and could easily kill his opponent then and there, he takes the Punisher out to sea so he can watch him be killed by sharks. When the Punisher informs him that he has lost the chance to have his fingers reattached (by putting them on ice without using a plastic bag, since direct ice contact kills the nerve endings), Barracuda simply laughs at his own carelessness. He tosses the Punisher overboard, along with the corpse of Horace, a local gangster that had wronged him. Barracuda thinks a great white had eaten them both. The Punisher survives and escapes by hanging onto the boat.
Barracuda becomes deeply involved with Dynaco and the affairs of the CEO's mistress and his right hand man Dermot. The plan is to set Dermot up as the new CEO during a shareholder fishing trip. Dynaco's plans, leaked to the media, result in the CEO committing suicide. Dermot ends up talking with the Punisher over the radio. With the full backing of the shareholders Dermot states they can do what they want; the Punisher cannot touch them.
The Punisher sinks the boat; everyone on board is eaten by sharks (the crew were handpicked Dynaco employees who had been in on the plan). Barracuda tries to come aboard Frank's boat, only to be shot at point blank range. Like Frank, he survives by hanging on to the boat.
An undetermined amount of time later, Barracuda is approached by Chris Angelone, an Italian Mafia boss. It is implied through both the art and dialogue that the character of "Big Chris" Angelone is "played" by Christopher Walken. Angelone has been feuding with Leopoldo Luna about the price of cocaine, so he has decided that his 20-year old hemophiliac son Oswald will kill Luna with Barracuda's assistance. He does not know Barracuda is an old ally of Luna's. Barracuda immediately betrays Angelone and has Luna take custody of Oswald to blackmail the gangster. He also betrays Luna by sleeping with his wife Wanda and then calls an old cross-dressing Green Beret buddy Fifty for backup (who Luna begins sleeping with, not knowing Fifty is not a woman).
Barracuda also seems to display genuine fondness and concern for Oswald, beyond what would be necessary for the role he wants Oswald to play. He refers to Oswald as "Hemo", encourages him to be more assertive and outgoing, and does not hesitate to risk his life to save Oswald during a gunfight, being wounded in the process. After this, Oswald sincerely thanks Barracuda for saving him.
Barracuda has set a complex scheme into motion in order to obtain the money he needs to get revenge on the Punisher. He announces to Luna's inner-circle that he intends to kill the dictator and put Wanda in his place, kill Angelone and put Oswald in his place, restart the cocaine trade between the two factions and get an American reconstruction firm (represented by an accountant he knew in prison) to start up work in Santa Morricone. One of the circle reveals this plan to Luna and he invites Barracuda and Fifty on a helicopter trip to the local volcano, planning to kill them; Barracuda salvages the situation by getting Fifty to show off his penis, causing the dictator to leap out of the helicopter to his doom.
Meanwhile Angelone, angry at being betrayed and humiliated, has been trying to launch a coup in Santa Morricone and successfully swings part of the army to his side. Barracuda and Fifty have to fight their way into the presidential palace to grab Oswald and Wanda and then flee back to the helicopter, but Fifty is gunned down in the second half of the plan and he remains behind to cover their retreat. (To his face, Barracuda seems stoically upset about this but grins and calls his old comrade "dumbass" when out of earshot.) They escape in the helicopter and when Angelone (who had grabbed the landing gear) rises up to get his revenge, Oswald shoots his father dead. He and Barracuda celebrate his becoming a "hardcore motherfucking gangster!"
Barracuda then gives Oswald a friendly pat on the back, which due to his hemophilia kills him. Due to the helicopter not having enough supplies, Barracuda and Wanda are left floating in the Pacific Ocean in a boat with no food or equipment. It is strongly hinted that he is going to cannibalize her.
Long, Cold Dark
While formulating a plan to get his revenge on the Punisher, Barracuda receives information from an unknown source that leads him to the home of Yorkie Mitchell, Castle's British friend and former SAS and MI6 agent (retired after the Punisher's "Man of Stone" story arc). After interrogating and killing Yorkie and his wife, Barracuda stumbles across some startling and very useful information; unbeknownst to the Punisher, he has a very young daughter, the result of a tryst between him and now deceased CIA agent Kathryn O'Brien. The baby is in the care of O'Brien's sister and brother-in-law in La Jolla, San Diego, California. Barracuda travels to La Jolla and kidnaps the child from a day care center, killing a worker in the process.
Barracuda returns to New York in order to draw the Punisher into a trap. He secretly sets up a meeting between several criminal organizations in a high rise hotel, knowing full well that such a meeting would attract the Punisher. Barracuda is not at this meeting himself; in fact the criminals are totally unaware of who set up the meeting in the first place. Frank, who is hiding in the ceiling, plans to strike amongst the confusion when he realizes that the entire place, including his own location, has been wired with explosives. Barracuda then steps off an elevator into the meeting and massacres the entire group (with intentions of taking over their businesses once he has finished with the Punisher). Frank joins the fray in order to escape the explosives. The Punisher is the only survivor of the massacre, to Barracuda's delight. He subdues Frank Castle and leaves on a zip line.
When the Punisher awakes, he finds himself bound to a chair. Barracuda gloats to him about his plan and reveals his daughter to him. An enraged Punisher breaks his bonds and attacks Barracuda, biting off his left cheek. Barracuda stabs the Punisher in the side and tosses him through the window. The Punisher lands on the hood of a police car and is arrested and hospitalized. Seeking treatment for his own injuries, Barracuda disappears with Frank's daughter.
Frank convinces his doctor that Barracuda will come for him and kill many people in the hospital. The doctor assists in his escape from police custody; he uses stimulants so Frank can walk. Later, using his own drugs, Frank travels to California to try to head off Barracuda. When he arrives he confronts Barracuda at the home of O'Brien's sister to rescue Sarah. Barracuda seemingly kills the child but it is a fake meant to disorient Frank. It does not work. Frank subdues the man and tortures the location of Sarah out of him. The child is in a car parked out in the woods.
As Frank tries to deal with Sarah's car-seat being booby trapped, Barracuda re-awakens and grabs a gun. He is wounded several times but pursues Frank into a nearby, empty elementary school. Frank loses his three front teeth but Barracuda loses his nose. His hands follow, then his entire head is blown off with his own gun. Sarah is returned safely to her adopted mother.
In the next arc, "Valley Forge, Valley Forge", it is revealed that Barracuda was sent by the U.S. military generals who organized the military operation in the arc "Mother Russia" to silence the Punisher.
Abilities and training
Trained as a Green Beret, he is a capable opponent and is also intelligent. He is able to mastermind a coup against Luna, lead his team to victory during the 1980s, and generally find his way out of many binds. He has incredible durability.
In fact, Barracuda's durability was so great that he managed to survive:
- Knife stab in the eye
- Hand cut in half
- Garroted by razorwire
- Hit by an iron pipe in the head
- Shot at point blank by a shotgun in the gut.
- At least 2 gunshots in arm
- Tortured by electrocuting his testicles
- One finger broken
- Two bullets from an M-60; one in the chest and another one in the leg
- Serious third degree burns by an exploding vehicle
- Nose literally broken by pliars
- Both arms chopped by a fire-axe; another stab to the chest later on
- Punisher chewed through him with a full automatic AK-47, which finally managed to put an end to him
All the time, Barracuda somehow managed to soak up the damage and pain no matter how serious it was and kept fighting back. He even managed to survive for a few seconds from the extremely fatal axe injuries.
He is just as resourceful, as seen by his survival at the hands of the Punisher by grabbing the side of the boat which brought him to safety. Barracuda has often demonstrated incredible physical strength, able to rip through steel chains and kick out through the boot/trunk of a car after undergoing torture, as well as a high level of combat skill, as he could fight the Punisher equally.
Barracuda's appearances have been collected in a number of trade paperbacks.
- Barracuda (collects Punisher vol. 6, #31-36), 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2023-8
- Punisher Presents: Barracuda MAX (collects Punisher Presents: Barracuda #1-5), September 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2465-9
In other media
- Ray Stevenson, who portrayed the Punisher in Punisher: War Zone, had expressed interest in a sequel to the film, with Barracuda as a possible villain.