The Punisher Exposes A Major Problem With Marvel's Shared Universe

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #1

In the Marvel Universe, the Punisher is now head of the ninja assassin cult known as the Hand, but when the Hand starts to appear in other stories, it shows a problem with Marvel's shared continuity.

The Punisher is primarily a loner, but he was lured into taking leadership over the Hand because they resurrected his dead wife Maria. As the Hand's leader, the Punisher has transformed the organization into one driven by his mission of punishment rather than their religious zealotry of honor and fanaticism towards their god the Beast. This has caused a bit of a clash with the Hand's head priestess, who tries to steer the group towards its traditional ways.


Related: Marvel is Giving The Punisher Five Different Superpowers

Meanwhile, in Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #1 by Gene Luen Yang and Marcus To, Shang-Chi is in current possession of the mystical Ten Rings, a set of mysterious weapons and artifacts from another dimension. The Ten Rings are so sought after that many groups in the Marvel Universe are after them. This includes the scientists from A.I.M., the fascist terrorist organization Hydra, Mister Negative's Inner Demons, and the Hand.

villain groups in the marvel universe

The fact that the Hand is after the Ten Rings highlights the problem with Marvel's shared universe. Right now, the Punisher is in control of all of the Hand's actions. As he seeks to steer the group towards punishing criminals, Frank Castle would have no reason to want the Ten Rings, let alone go after Shang-Chi to acquire them. If it were any other time in Marvel history, the Hand's presence in this story would make perfect sense. But since Frank Castle is in charge of the Hand now, there seems to be a disconnect between this story and what's going on elsewhere in the Marvel Universe.

There's always the possibility that other forces within the Hand are seeking to acquire the Ten Rings for their own purpose, perhaps to overthrow the Punisher and reclaim control of the group. But that explanation would complicate things even more, as there seems to be no indication of that storyline in either this book or the main Punisher title. Of course, the reader would have to have knowledge of the Hand's current political climate in order to realize this, but that only serves to diminish the appeal of a shared universe if ignorance is required to enjoy certain stories. Either way, the Punisher's current role in the Hand seemed destined to cause continuity problems.