Martin Soap in The Punisher Vol. 5, #4 (July 2000)
Art by Steve Dillon
|First appearance||The Punisher Vol. 5, #2 (May 2000)|
|Created by||Garth Ennis
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Team affiliations||New York City Police Department|
Lieutenant Molly von Richthofen
|Supporting character of||Punisher|
Lieutenant Martin Soap is a fictional police officer, and ally of the Marvel Comics antihero the Punisher. He was created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and first appeared in The Punisher Vol. 5, #2 (May 2000).
Martin Soap debuted in The Punisher Vol. 5, #2 and appeared in every subsequent installment of the series up to Issue #12. The character was then featured in seventeen issues of the following volume, with his final appearance being in The Punisher Vol. 6, #37.
Soap received a profile in Marvel Encyclopedia #5.
Fictional character biography
Martin Soap suffers misfortune right from the beginning. Moments after his birth, the nurse drops him on his head. He is abandoned as a child by his unwed teenage mother and raised in an orphanage. A meeting with an alcoholic police officer generates the desire to be a cop when he grows up. He joins the New York Police Department and despite being promoted to detective becomes known as a screw-up, describing himself as "the department's biggest loser." When the police department became pressured by Ma Gnucci to crack down on the Punisher, Soap is placed on the "Punisher Task Force", so the department could look like it was after the Punisher without really putting him in danger, as the Punisher is quite popular among most police officers. His first partner, Bud Plugg, is a forensic psychologist with no real police training. After Soap gives some well-intentioned criticism of a psychological review about the Punisher, Plugg becomes despondent. He hangs himself in Soap's office.
Soap soon partners up with Lieutenant Molly von Richthofen, who was assigned to a similar task force after Ma Gnucci. The two work well together. Soap develops romantic feelings for Richthofen but is gently rebuffed when she told him that she was a lesbian. After the Punisher's assault on Ma Gnucci's compound, Soap and Richthofen are surprised by the Punisher, but let him get away in exchange for compromising pictures of the Mayor and the NYPD Commissioner. Using the pictures for blackmail, Soap becomes the new Police Commissioner. Molly retires to another country.
At the beginning of The Punisher (vol. 6), Soap is demoted to detective after being blackmailed with pictures of him with a prostitute. He is again assigned to the "Punisher Task Force". Distraught over the dead end his life has become, Soap attempts to commit suicide, but is approached by the Punisher. Soap agrees to become a mole for him, supplying the Punisher with information on his targets from the police database. After Soap kills serial killer John "Bubba" Prong in self-defense, Soap is promoted to Lieutenant.
Soap is later taken hostage by hired goons working for ruthless tabloid reporter Chuck Self, who forces the Punisher to take Self along with him while the Punisher spends a night killing gangsters and petty criminals. If Castle fails to comply with Self's orders, Self will text-message his men to kill Soap. During the course of being chased by gang members and Mafiosos, Self is injured several times while the Punisher himself remained unscathed. Self is later killed by accidentally falling into a wood chipper, and Castle returns to save Soap by killing Self's thugs. The Punisher leaves Self's mangled corpse on the hood of his own car, then Castle and Soap walk away.
Soap is seen as a bar regular, falsely believing the bar owner, Kevin, to be one of his true friends. Soap meets up with a succession of inappropriate romantic targets, including, but not limited to, a transvestite and a woman implied to be his own long-lost mother. Kevin is aware of the twisted nature of Soap's romantic conquests yet chooses not to inform him for his own amusement. When Soap nearly kills himself with a gun in the men's bathroom, Kevin intervenes and Soap believes that it's out of concern for his well being. But when Kevin makes a snarky comment because he didn't want a mess and preferred Soap to kill himself at his home, Soap snaps at Kevin, threatens him with his gun and terrifies him before storming off, having found self-confidence in himself. Soap tries to arrest the Punisher, but fails to stop him. Soap then becomes despondent; Castle then tells Soap when things aren't getting better, to "just go".
In the Marvel Noir universe, Soap is a competent NYPD Detective investigating the murder of Frank Castelione, and the murders committed by Frank's son, Frank Castelione, Jr. (who became the Punisher). The case is declared closed when Frank, Jr. kills the Russian, and makes it look like he was the Punisher. Despite there being circumstantial evidence of a frame-up, Soap is content, and obeys his superior's orders to not continue his investigation of the Punisher.
In other media
- Soap appears in the 2008 film Punisher: War Zone, played by Dash Mihok. He is portrayed as a clumsy and overly self-important man, with a degree in behavioral psychology and almost no aptitude for actually confronting criminals (there are several scenes where he is shown fumbling with his own pistol). As a joke, his superiors assign him to the "Punisher Task Force," a meaningless sinecure which consists solely of Soap, since the NYPD is fully in sympathy with the Punisher's actions, but has to (cosmetically) appear as though it is trying to discourage vigilantism. Soap is partnered with Paul Budiansky, an FBI agent fixated on apprehending the Punisher, who had killed an undercover agent by mistake. Midway through the film, it is revealed that Soap is actually one of the Punisher's allies, feeding him information on his various targets. By the time Budiansky has figured this out, he has realized how evil the criminals they are up against are, and how powerless the "system" is to punish them. Soap and Budiansky both assist the Punisher in rescuing the dead agent's family from Jigsaw. In the aftermath, Soap starts to walk Frank home, beginning an unsolicited lecture on the benefits of mercy and rehabilitation instead of outright execution - but halts when he is menaced by a mugger, whom the Punisher kills.
- Martin Soap appears in the 2005 Punisher video game, voiced by Michael Gough. In the game, he and Molly von Richthofen interrogate the captured Punisher on Ryker's Island. Flashbacks reveal that Soap is secretly allied with the Punisher, regularly forwarding him information about various criminals. In one level, the Punisher enters a bar in order to kill Mafioso Bobby Gnucci (son of Ma Gnucci) and his entourage. Soap is present, but misses the shootout due to being in the restroom vomiting, partly from alcohol consumption, and partly due to fear of Gnucci's thugs. Soap exits the restroom after the Punisher leaves the premises, sees the mess, and proclaims, "Damn it, Castle, this was my favorite bar!"
- The Punisher (vol. 5) #1
- The Punisher (vol. 5) #3
- The Punisher (vol. 5) #12
- The Punisher (vol. 6) #14
- The Punisher (vol. 6) #15
- The Punisher (vol. 6) #37
- The Punisher (vol. 6) #37
- Frank Tieri (w), Paul Azaceta (p), Paul Azaceta (i), Nick Filardi (col), VC's Joe Sabino (let), Sebastian Girner (ed). "Punisher & Son" Punisher Noir #2 (16 September 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Frank Tieri (w), Paul Azaceta (p), Paul Azaceta (i), Nick Filardi (col), VC's Joe Sabino (let), Sebastian Girner (ed). "Two Down..." Punisher Noir #3 (21 October 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Frank Tieri (w), Antonio Fuso (p), Antonio Fuso (i), Nick Filardi (col), VC's Joe Sabino (let), Sebastian Girner (ed). "The Last Words of Dutch Schultz" Punisher Noir #4 (9 December 2009), United States: Marvel Comics
- Lexi Alexander (Director) (5 December 2008). Punisher: War Zone (Motion picture). United States: Lions Gate Entertainment.
- Volition (16 January 2005). "The Punisher". PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows (v1.0). THQ.