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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Have any of the comics ever given this guy a sidekick/underling named Billy?

Jigsaw is a criminal with a heart as twisted and gruesome as his once-beautiful face.

Since the bio has brought it up, how weird was the choice to cast Dominic West as Billy Russoti in the Punisher War Zone movie? Like, the character's entire point is that he's mad at Punisher because he used to be stunningly handsome and now is ugly; with all due respect to Mr. West, he does not fit that bill. It's like the choice to have Aaron Eckhart play Harvey Dent. You've got these guys who are definitely striking (code for "weird looking, but in a vaguely symmetrical way"), but not what you'd call particularly attractive, being cast as "the most beautiful man in town." (For what it's worth, Netflix did a much better job by getting Ben Barnes for their Punisher show.) You'd have an easier time believing Marky Mark Wahlberg is a scientist than believing Dominc West is anything other than a weird little goblin-man.

"Billy the Beaut" was a mob cleaner tasked with tying up any loose ends related to the accidental killing of Frank Castle's family - he got most of them, but missed Frank himself. When the newly-christened Punisher came for him, he shoved Billy face-first through a second-story plate glass window and down to the street below. Mob doctors stitched him up, but there was only so much they could do - thus his gruesome face today. The toy is highly expressive, with one bulging eye, a snarl exaggerated by some missing skin, and thin red scars held together with silver sutures. It's terrific!

Back when ToyBiz did their Face-Off Punisher/Jigsaw set, there was a variant available ("available" in the sense that it was one of the final products from a company that was ending its time with the license in a few months, and it was the rarer version of an already-scarce release) that saw Jigsaw wearing a stylish white suit instead of a knockoff Punisher costume. I've been trying for 16 years to find that set, but now I don't need to, because this Walgreens exclusive does the same thing, but better. It's built on Hasbro's second suit body, though with the arms introduced on Happy Hogan. His jacket is a new piece, combining jacket and vest into one tube that fits over the torso. Yes, we've seen characters wearing similar things before, but no, this isn't the same as any of them. The vest sits very high on the chest, leaving the tip of his necktie just barely visible beneath it.

The figure has a separate neck brace over his shirt collar, which is a feature that kind of comes and goes in the comics: he's worn it sporadically over the years, to the point where he can look right either with our without it. Your neck is never going to heal properly if you don't follow your doctor's orders consistently, Billy! It's never really been given an explanation (he already had it in his first appearance, when he was wearing a yellow and purple costume rather than normal clothes), but presumably it has something to do with that head-first drop from the second floor of whatever building Frank found him in. Because of the way Marvel Legends are made, you can pop the head off and remove the collar if you don't like it, but he does look better with it. The articulation is normal, but since this is the second suit body, he's not relegated to having his feet point the wrong direction forever. Although if he were, that could also be blamed on being dropped on his head, couldn't it?

Fittingly, most of Jigsaw's accessories are taken from a Punisher: he's got a sawed-off shotgun, a machete, and a baseball bat. We just saw the bat recently with Hammerhead, but this time it's painted silver rather than brown - Jigsaw prefers aluminum to wood! There are a pair of knives, which have been around since the early days, and a couple of blast effects and smoke trails that can fit into the end of the shotgun. Unfortunately, the way they're designed means the barrels of the gun are too close together to realistically use more than one blast at a time. Shame.

Jogsaw is pretty much the only thing the Punisher has close to an arch-enemy - mainly by virtue of being the only character who's fought the Punisher more than one or two times. Why is he the only one Frank won't kill? Well, he's tried, but it's never stuck, because what writer wouldn't want to use the only villain who's actually got history? Besides, at this point, it feels like the Punisher has more fun continually messing up Jigsaw's face than he would just shooting him and getting it over with. It's hard to believe it's been a decade and a half since we last got a Jigsaw action figure, but Hasbro really did a spectacular job on this exclusive.

-- 06/06/22

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