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Punisher’s Pet Sidekick Could Actually Rival Hawkeye’s Pizza Dog

Although the Punisher usually acts as a one-man army, for an all-too-brief period of his history, Frank Castle set aside his loner ways and found himself with his very own canine partner. Comic book characters have long been accompanied by animal companions, from Hawkeye’s Lucky the Pizza Dog to Kitty Pryde’s Lockheed to Harley Quinn and her hyenas. Frank Castle proved that even the most battle-hardened, ice-water-in-the-veins antihero isn’t immune to the pull of having his own four-legged friend.

Much of The Punisher (2014) by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerards was a deviation for the Punisher: rather than the gray streets of New York City, Frank instead found himself in the heat-blistered landscapes of Southern California and Mexico. Rather than the typical mafias of the East Coast, his primary antagonist were members of the Dos Soles drug cartel. Perhaps most notable, however, was the introduction of Frank Castle’s very own canine companion: a coyote named Loot (short for “The Lieutenant”).

Loot and Frank first meet in The Punisher #2 in the deserts outside of Los Angeles. The Punisher ambushes a Del Soles weapon deal, and the wild coyote not yet named Loot is disturbed by the commotion and accidentally gets caught in the crossfire. Unwilling to leave the coyote to die in the desert, Frank opts to rescue Loot and nurse him back to health with the aid of another Punisher ally, US army soldier Thomas Tuggs. Loot spends the majority of Frank’s crusade against the Del Soles still recuperating, providing much needed morale support to the Punisher and serving as a (mildly feral) lapdog for Tuggs while Frank is away. An ambush from the Howling Commandos leads to Loot’s most tangible contribution to Frank’s war effort during his recovery: with Tuggs held captive by the Commandos, Loot instinctively seeks out the Punisher in his nearby safehouse to “inform” Frank that something is wrong in much the same way Lassie let everyone know Timmy fell down the well. The surprisingly cuddly coyote also gets his own mini-“Punisher” moment, menacing Hector del Sol (leader of the gang who tried to kill Loot) during Hector’s last moments before Frank Castle gruesomely executes him on live television.

Punisher Loot 2
Following the destruction of the Del Soles cartel, the fully healed Loot joins the Punisher in his endless war on the streets, adding his teeth to Frank’s already impressive arsenal of weapons as he ruthlessly dispatches the sort of irredeemable criminal element that often find themselves in the Punisher’s figurative and literal crosshairs. Tragically, Loot’s time as the Punisher’s crime-fighting sidekick is cut all too short. Memento, a former LAPD Officer inspired to murderous vigilantism by the Punisher, decides Frank himself needs to be taken out: Castle is viciously stabbed by Memento, and Loot is also horrifically impaled by her blade when he attempts to defend Frank. Memento leaves both to bleed out in an alley, though Frank finds the strength to carry himself and Loot into a more public location looking for help. The Punisher comforts the mortally wounded Loot, holding him in his arms in his final moments. Unfortunately, the ongoing Secret Wars (2015) brought about an abrupt end to Edmondson’s time on the Punisher: Frank has yet to catch up with Memento and Loot’s ambiguous (officially off-page) death remains unpunished.

Loot the coyote brought a unique breath into Frank Castle’s world and allowed readers to see a softer, caring side of a man best known for his staggering acts of violence. Through Loot, fans got to see a glimmer of Frank as the man he was before he became the Punisher, a loving man and father who doesn’t hesitate to look out for others. While his time in the Marvel Universe was brief, perhaps the door is open for Loot’s miraculous return or for the Punisher to finally seek justice for his fallen friend.

About Talha Khan

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