Serving justice with a Bullet – Inside the Punisher

The Punisher had a fantastic two seasons on Netflix, and if we’re being honest they canceled that way too soon. With all the new shows coming out from Marvel, it’s possible that Frank Castle will return in another series. But so far, that’s just wishful thinking. 

There is a lot told and untold about the man known as the Punisher in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, I figured why not get into the who, what, why of Frank Castle, followed by some essential reading to know more.

Created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Jr. and Ross Andru, The Punisher made in debut way back in 1974’s The Amazing Spider-Man #129, as a vigilante assassin hired to kill Spider-Man for the apparent murder of Norman Osbourne. But thankfully he figures out that he was being tricked and returns to help our favourite wall crawler. Lucky for us, we wouldn’t have had him around if the Punisher offed him… although we would have avoided that annoying Tobey Maguire dance scene.

Frank Castle was a US Marine Corps Scout/Sniper in Force Recon, who’s entire family is murdered by the mob. He was a suicidal man hunting for justice through ‘due process’. But, on realising how corrupt the system is, Castle decides to take matters into his own hand.

Keep in mind that Castle was already a dangerous man, but on his hunt for justice and vengeance, he’s driven by one single desire. As an anti-hero he isn’t bound by rules superheroes go by – “No Guns” or “No Killing”. He returns wearing Kevlar armour with a big white skull, armed to the teeth, and a vow to fight crime and destroy the mob.

Highly trained in multiple forms of hand-to-hand combat, specialised firearms, explosive ordinance, and has also used technology derived from super-villains and other costumed people he has encountered. 

Aside from his physical prowess, the Punisher demonstrates superb intensive focus and mental discipline, providing a strong resistance against psychic and telepathic powers that are used against him.

The Punisher has had three feature films so far and was first portrayed by Dolph Lundgren in 1989.

He’s been seen in Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, Superhero Squad and Avengers animated series.

He’s also had multiple video game appearances including many self-titled ones too.

Now, on to the essentials!

Punisher MAX (2004)

Written by Garth Ennis

This is a grim, dark, and gritty take on the Punisher. Garth Ennis’s run on Punisher ran for 75 issues and never once lost a beat. Now in his fifties, Castle isn’t aging too well on the outside, but inside the rage, hunger, and need to destroy all evil still burns like hellfire. No superheroes, it’s just Frank Castle versus every evil scum the world can throw at him. It’s a huge insight into the mind of the Punisher, who he is, and what continues to drive him. Keep in mind, this one’s not for the faint-hearted. Joined by a host of incredible artists including Darick Robertson, Leandro Fernandez, Lewis LaRosa, this is one for the collection.

Welcome Back, Frank (2000)

Written by Garth Ennis

Art by Steve Dillon

Another Garth Ennis written run, because it’s pretty damn good. Ennis and Dillon teamed up to bring The Punisher into the 20th century. The Punisher was cancelled in 1997 and this run is what salvaged the character and brought him back to the limelight. A 12- issue run that was a surprisingly funny, yet full of beautifully brutal hardcore action. Not to mention he kills a mobster with a fucking Polar Bear. They took the character back to basics and gave the Punisher his balls back after a lacklustre run.

Cosmic Ghost Rider

Written by Donny Cates

Art by Dylan Burnett and Antonio Fabela

What happens when Frank Castle makes a deal with the devil, then makes a deal with Galactus, and then makes a deal with Thanos. You get the Cosmic Ghost Rider! From the mad brain of Donny Cates, comes this mind-boggling story where Frank Castle is has a flaming skull, an intergalactic chopper, space sharks, and baby Thanos. Frank has a supposedly simple plan to fix the universe and make it better, or at least he thought it was going to be simple.

Words: Anant Sagar

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