Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon bring Frank back to basics!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

Nearly 30 years after his first appearance, it seemed as though The Punisher had seen and done it all. He began as a pawn of The Jackal, then went on to become the scourge of the underworld and the driving force behind three ongoing series throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Despite this success, he fell slightly out of favor (compared to the highs of his heyday), during the late 1990s.

Then came writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, launching Frank Castle into a new era of storytelling. Their first 12 issue run on THE PUNISHER kicked off in 2000 and quickly become one of the most popular Marvel Knights books around.

Punisher (2000) #1

Punisher (2000) #1

  • Published: April 01, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2007
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As retribution his past deeds, a group of angels briefly showed Frank his family in heaven before casting him back to Earth. “The angels thought it would be hell for me. But they were wrong,” Frank grimaced—Ennis’ way of saying that readers would be in for a whole different level of insanity with this new take on the character!

Frank got to work cleaning up the city, bringing him into contact with a wild and memorable group of characters, from the people in the building he lived in, to the hapless Detective Soap, to enemies like Ma Gnucci and The Russian.

Punisher (2000) #2

Punisher (2000) #2

  • Published: May 10, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2008
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Presented with the perfect level of action, humor, and violent insanity for a character like The Punisher, Ennis and Dillon excelled at putting this one man army into situations that seemed impossible to escape—and having him come out on top. A classic underdog, their version of The Punisher also had a serious mean streak.

Despite this, it’s important to see how Castle separates himself from the other lunatics that inhabit his world. Upon meeting vigilantes like The Holy, Elite, and Payback, Punisher identified them as wildly reckless with innocent lives. He immediately refused their offer to lead their squad…and then opened fire.

Punisher (2000) #3

Punisher (2000) #3

  • Published: June 10, 2000
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 24, 2008
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Ennis and Dillon then launched the PUNISHER ongoing series in 2001 under the Marvel Knights umbrella, which continued their brilliant take on the character with other artists like Tom Mandrake and John McCrea. In 2006, the title moved to the Marvel MAX imprint, where it ran for another 75 issues.

War Journal

Written by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by legendary horror artist Bernie Wrightson, the 1998 PUNISHER series kicked off with a confused Punisher living in the streets and giving help to those who needed it most. This interpretation of Frank, however, boasted glowing eyes, a strange symbol on his forehead, and the ability to pull any gun imaginable out of his trench coat! He got these perfectly Punisher mystical abilities by once being resurrected by an angel in order to continue fighting criminals, and now demons, alike.

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Frank Castle's empire of violence expands!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

A darker tone and the rise of antiheroes changed the landscape of comic books during the late 1980s and early 1990s. And no character met the demands of the new trend better than Frank Castle.

In 1987, writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson launched the character’s first ongoing series with THE PUNISHER. Baron wrote the first 63 issues, joined by a host of artists including, most notably, Whilce Portacio and Erik Larsen.

The series proved popular enough that The Punisher earned a spinoff series, called PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, in 1988. In its early issues, Frank learned that a mobster named Hector Montoya set up the attack that led to the death of Castle’s family. During his first stay at Ryker’s Island, Frank actually fought alongside Montoya, without knowing that his orders were the ones that changed his life forever.

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

  • Published: November 10, 1988
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 10, 2008
  • Writer: Carl Potts
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When Montoya got released from prison, The Punisher proved his title to be true, exacting his revenge for the loss of his wife and children. The early WAR JOURNAL issues also included meet-ups with Daredevil, flashbacks to Vietnam, and even a fight-turned-team-up with Wolverine!

Chuck Dixon, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson then launched the third Castle-centric book with THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE in 1992, capturing the look and feel of the era’s action films—plenty of hard-edged heroes mixing it up in gloriously choreographed, explosive violence.

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

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Each of these three series came to their respective ends in 1995, culminating in one story called “Countdown,” running through PUNISHER #103, WAR JOURNAL #79, WAR ZONE #41, PUNISHER #104, and WAR JOURNAL #80. Dixon wrote the crossover, tearing Castle’s world apart and setting him up to be brainwashed in DOUBLE EDGE: ALPHA and DOUBLE EDGE: OMEGA, which led to him murdering Nick Fury!

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Not one to stay down for long, Castle returned later that same year in a new volume of PUNISHER, this time written by John Ostrander. In this story, rather than aiming to destroy the mob, Frank actually took charge of one himself! The series also saw The Punisher go head-to-head with Jigsaw, S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and even the X-Cutioner!

Come back next week to see how Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon relaunched The Punisher!

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Review Frank Castle’s very first limited series!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

Frank Castle had already made a name for himself in the criminal underworld by the time he saw his solo series debut. In the 1986 five part story PUNISHER, street-level and super villains alike knew the inevitable result of seeing that iconic skull: blood.

The series, by writer Steven Grant (with assistance from Jo Duffy in the last issue) and artists Mike Zeck and Mike Vos, started out with The Punisher getting locked up at Ryker’s Island. Frank caught a break, however, when a breakout occurred and he met a new group called the Trust. The Trust, comprised of supposedly concerned citizens, had money and a desire to clean the streets of crime.

Punisher (1986) #1

Punisher (1986) #1

  • Published: January 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
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The group’s leader, Alaric, arranged Castle’s freedom so that he could continue his personal mission and help the Trust along the way. Frank began working again, though found himself in need of assistance when his Battlevan mysteriously exploded.

At this same time, New York City plunged into an all-out mob war after the apparent death of The Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Normally, Frank wouldn’t have a problem with a gang versus gang showdown doing his work for him, but too many innocent people got hurt in the crossfire.

Punisher (1986) #2

Punisher (1986) #2

  • Published: February 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
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The Trust maintained their relationship with Frank throughout the war—and even introduced him to a new romantic partner named Angela. While The Punisher tried working towards a peace agreement between the fighting gangs, a new mob boss named Coriander set up another gang of assassins. After facing off against Coriander and his goon squad, the villain revealed that he actually worked for the Trust! And moments later, Angela appeared and attempted to kill Frank!

In response, The Punisher took his fight to the leader, Alaric. As their final encounter came to a close, with Alaric dead to rights, Frank told the man to alert the journalist Ben Urich of all his dirty dealings. In exchange for Alaric’s confession, Castle spared him his life.

Punisher (1986) #3

Punisher (1986) #3

  • Published: March 10, 1986
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 06, 2012
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War Journal

This limited series makes a few references to Frank Castle’s previous stint in Ryker’s, which ended when he went on a drug-fueled rampage. For that story, check out SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #81, #82, and #83. Frank uses Boomerang’s skills to help break him out of prison, then goes off his rocker, attacking every kind of criminal—from actual bad guys to litterers!

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Frank Miller sends The Punisher on a Daredevil date with destiny!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

Having started his legendary DAREDEVIL run with issue #158, Frank Miller first introduced The Punisher to the Man Without Fear in issues #181-#184. Joined by creative duo Klaus Janson and Roger McKenzie, Frank Castle only appeared on one page of DAREDEVIL #181 before jumping into the story in earnest with issue #182.

Daredevil (1964) #181

Daredevil (1964) #181

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Both he and Bullseye sat behind bars on Ryker’s Island, though Bullseye managed to break out—and ended up killing Elektra in the same issue. By the time issue #182 rolled around, Castle had an escape arranged so that he could disrupt a major narcotics shipment on Long Island. In an operation that now seems commonplace to PUNISHER readers, he brutally—and systematically—took out the drug runner’s guards, tossing out lines like, “This is war. I don’t take prisoners.”

The script, however, got flipped on Frank when he realized that his targets actually enlisted children to do their dirty work—and that his supposed liberator wanted to either kill him or send him back to jail.

Daredevil (1964) #182

Daredevil (1964) #182

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Later, as Castle hunted down another drug ring, Daredevil appeared—and stopped The Punisher from killing an accomplice. Face-to-face at last, they ran their separate ways when gunshots rang out. Castle’s penchant for killing didn’t sit well with Matt Murdock, who began searching for the assassin.

Daredevil tracked The Punisher down on a rooftop as the former military man tortured a junkie for information on a drug dealer. Frank attempted to make an ally of the sightless her, but his efforts failed and they quickly leapt into battle. During the fight, Punisher shot the Horn Head with a tranquilizer dart…and then proceeded to kill the junkie. Castle’s continued search for the dealer led him to another fight with Murdock, this time resulting in Daredevil shooting Frank in the shoulder! One win each.

Daredevil (1964) #183

Daredevil (1964) #183

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Daredevil and The Punisher, two very different sides of the same coin, have teamed-up, toiled, and tussled with each other ever since.

War Journal

More recently, in writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark’s run on DAREDEVIL, Frank Castle found himself in prison thanks to Matt Murdock—though not for the reasons one might think.

Murdock himself had been locked up because everyone thought he was Daredevil, and—aware that the streets would always be safer if the Man Without Fear patrolled them, The Punisher allowed himself to be captured and sent to the same jail. Once inside, the duo made it look like Castle took Murdock captive before they escaped together in a helicopter.

Next week, check back for a look at the 1986 PUNISHER five issue limited series by Steven Grant, Mike Zeck, Jo Duffy, and Mike Vos!

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