David Linus Lieberman (Microchip)

microchipfilmAt the end of the week, let’s come back to casualgamer‘s long request, and this time we meet a minor yet essential character: Microchip, the assistant of The Punisher. He only appeared in Punisher: War Zone, portrayed by Wayne Knight. In the movie, he acted as an arms dealer, informant, friend and confidante to the Punisher, and he lived in a small apartment with his disabled mother. He’s portrayed so bent on his friend’s crusade that he’s the one who prompts him to continue his brutal war on crime when the Punisher himself is not so sure anymore whether to continue it or not. In the comics, Microchip and Punisher didn’t always see things the same way, and they even had some major disagreements: let’s see together.

Life was never easy for David Linus Lieberman: when he was a child, he and his sister witnessed helplessly as their father, a brilliant engineer, was forced to create weapons for this or that mob boss against his will. While this experience didn’t leave visible marks on David’s sister, who got married and became a happy and perfectly normal housewife, it scarred the boy deeply: he swore he would have always be in control, never to be tormented by prevaricators like his father was. David was a grown up in the early days of computers, and he became one of the first hackers ever… and surely one of the most skilled. Now known as the legendary hacker Microchip, he used his undoubted talents to make quite a fortune through scams and even hacking for commission, but this “game” he played ended up bringing him far too close to real criminals, guys who weren’t happy at all in having a computer nerd nosing around their business. Fearing for his life, Micro left his business, forced to an early “retirement”, and he decided to become what he had always avoided to: an insignificant man, a very normal and very invisible businessman, leaving no trace of his previous identity. David’s sister, in the meanwhile, had given birth to a son, who idolized his uncle and wanted to microchipcomics1follow his footsteps. During his days as Microchip, David had taught his nephew the basis of hacking, but now that he was out of the business he didn’t encourage the boy to imitate him anymore… but this obviously didn’t discourage the boy, who kept training by himself, and became a skilled hacker on his own accord. With all the daring carelessness of his youth, the boy started hacking private computers of important and powerful businessmen… until he tried to do the same with the computer of Wilson Fisk, a respectable philanthropist who secretly was the Kingpin, the undisputed lord of the West Coast’s criminality. Needless to say, the Kingpin wasn’t prone to justify the action of a man trying to steal from him, for young as he could be, and he had the boy killed. His nephew’s death was the event that made David Lieberman become Microchip again: wanting justice, he started investigating on the murder, brushing up on his old skills.

While on Fisk’s trails, Microchip met another man who was leading a lonely crusade against crime, disappointed by the system: Frank Castle, an ex marine who was now the vigilante known as The Punisher. The two formed an alliance, and despite they proved unable to bring down the Kingpin, Microchip realized that Frank’s way of fighting crime was far more effective than the police’s one. He joined Punisher in his mission, putting all his remarkable skills at his disposal. Micro wasn’t only a hacker: he could act as a cyber-investigator, providing intel, intercepting the police communications, using old and new contacts to provide the vigilante with money, weapons and ammo for his crusade. It was during this period that Micro found out that a former lover of his, Jan O’Reilly Frohike, had had a son from him, Louis: despite his best efforts to keep him away from the world he was now in, as soon as he learnt who his father was Louis decided to follow his same “career”, much to Micro’s concern. With his son on the field, Micro changed his view on The Punisher’s methods as well, and he realized that Frank was just as mad as the lunatics he was hunting. At first, he stepped down to the role microchipcomics2of counselor only, always insisting with Frank that he took a break from time to time, hoping to avoid him a total breakdown. Believing that what the Punisher did was necessary, but unable to stand the violence and the blood-bath Castle embraced, he eventually took the problem in his own hands, and locked his friend up, in a desperate attempt to make him regain his lost sanity. In absence of the original Punisher, Micro recruited a new one, Carlos Cruz, a former Navy Seal who became a second, less violent Punisher, who could still instill fear in the criminals, but who no longer killed them. Micro used many psychological experiments on Castle trying to make him regain his humanity, but all his efforts were in vain. In the end, Castle managed to free himself, and submitted his captor and former friend: holding him at gunpoint, he was really about to kill him, but Stone Cold, an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned assassin for hire preceded him, bombing the place. Not even death could bring the word “end” to Micro’s story, however: years later, the mystic criminal known as The Hood brought him back from the dead, promising him he would have resurrected his son (killed while helping The Punisher) if he helped him take down Castle. It was time for the former friends to cross guns again…

David Lieberman is a reasonable man, who went through far too many losses to keep his mind working well. In a particularly tragic moment of his life, he embraced The Punisher’s code and cause, but he’s never been as cold and pitiless as he is, and he’s now more than doubtful about the righteousness of his friend’s war on crime. As Microchip, he’s an extremely skilled hacker, able to crack nearly any system; he’s also an experienced investigator and an unmatched supply-runner, able to gather cash and weapons for any necessity. He’s also a skilled armed fighter, able to sustain a gunfight with The Punisher himself. Usually The Punisher’s voice of reason, Microchip has a “weakness” Castle overcame many years ago: a conscience.