Punisher


Punisher

Infobox superhero


caption = Promotional art for "The Punisher" #31
Art by Tim Bradstreet.
character_name = The Punisher
publisher = Marvel Comics
debut = "Amazing Spider-Man" #129 (Feb. 1974)
creators = Gerry Conway
Ross Andru
John Romita, Sr.
full_name = Francis "Frank" Castle
(born Castiglione)
aliases = Mr. Smith, Charles Fort, Frank Rook, Johnny Tower
powers =Tactical expert.
Highly trained in armed and unarmed combat.
Demolitions expert.
Peak human physical condition.
Exceptionally high pain tolerance.

The Punisher (Frank Castle) is a fictional antihero that appears in the comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru, the character first appears in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #129 (Feb. 1974).

The Punisher is a vigilante who considers killing, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of violence and torture to be acceptable crime-fighting tactics. Driven by the deaths of his family, who were killed by the mob when they witnessed a gangland execution in New York City's Central Park, the Punisher wages a one-man war on the mob and all criminals in general by using all manner of weaponry. A war veteran, Castle is a master of martial arts, stealth tactics, and a wide variety of weapons.

The Punisher's brutal nature and willingness to kill made him a novel character in mainstream American comic books in 1974. By the late 1980s, he was part of a wave of psychologically troubled antiheroes and was featured in several monthly publications, including "The Punisher War Journal", "The Punisher War Zone", and "The Punisher Armory". Several movie adaptations have been released, one in 1989, which features Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher, and another in 2004, with the character played by Thomas Jane. A is in post-production with Ray Stevenson as Castle and is planned for a December 2008 release.

Publication history

First appearance

The Punisher was created by Gerry Conway and his first appearance was illustrated by Ross Andru, at that time the regular writer and artist, respectively, for "The Amazing Spider-Man". Conway states he also helped design the character's distinctive costume:

Conway had drawn a character with a small death's head skull on one breast. Then-Marvel art director John Romita, Sr. took the basic design, blew the skull up to huge size, taking up most of the character's chest, and added a cartridge bandolier that formed the skull's teeth.

Appearing in "Amazing Spider-Man #129" (Feb. 1974), the Punisher was initially an antagonist of Spidey. He had joined forces with the Jackal in order to fight crime and Spider-Man, being recently accused of the murder of Norman Osborn, was a target. (The Jackal was in fact a villain who was deceiving the Punisher as part of plan to kill Spider-Man whom he blamed for the death of Gwen Stacy with whom he had been in love.) Although quite prepared to kill criminals, the Punisher adhered to a code of honor (something he showed little of in subsequent versions). He was outraged, for instance, when the Jackal appeared to kill Spider-Man from behind, by treachery, rather than honorably face-to-face.

This version of the Punisher was shown as an athletic fighter and a master marksman. All that he would reveal about himself was that he was a former Marine. He had a fierce temper and was engaged in considerable soul-searching as to what was the right thing to do. Spider-Man, who was no stranger to such torment, concluded that the Punisher's problems made his own seem like a "birthday party".

The character of the Punisher was popular enough to make appearances in the various Spider-Man titles and other series throughout the 1970s.

Initial series

In the early 1980s, artist Mike Zeck and writer Steven Grant proposed creating a Punisher series. Marvel published a miniseries whose premiere (Jan. 1986) was bannered on the cover as the first of four. After this first issue immediately sold out, Marvel expanded the miniseries to five issues (as then bannered on the cover of #2) and began active promotion.

An ongoing series, also titled "The Punisher", premiered the next year. Initially by writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson, it eventually ran 104 issues (July 1987 - July 1995) and spun off two additional ongoing series — "The Punisher War Journal (vol.1)" (80 issues, Nov. 1988 - July 1995) and "The Punisher War Zone" (41 issues, March 1992 - July 1995), as well as the black-and-white comics magazine, "The Punisher Magazine" (16 issues, Nov. 1989 - Sept. 1990), and "The Punisher Armory" (10 issues, no cover dates, starting 1990), a fictional diary detailing "His thoughts! His feelings! His weapons!" (as stated on the cover of #1). The Punisher also appeared in numerous one-shots and miniseries, and made frequent guest appearances in other Marvel comics, ranging from superhero series to the Vietnam War-era comic "The 'Nam".

Decline

In 1995, Marvel cancelled all three ongoing Punisher series due to poor sales. The publisher attempted a re-launch almost immediately, with a new ongoing series "The Punisher", under the new Marvel Edge imprint, by writer John Ostrander, in which the Punisher willingly joined and became the boss of an organized crime family, and later confronted the X-Men and Nick Fury. The series ran for 18 issues, from November 1995 to April 1997. Writer Christopher Golden's four-issue miniseries "" (Nov. 1998 - Feb. 1999) posited a deceased Punisher resurrected as a supernatural agent of various angels and demons.

Revivals

A 12-issue mini-series by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, again titled " The Punisher" (April 2000 - March 2001) , under the "Marvel Knights" imprint, revived the character's popularity. An ongoing series (37 issues, Aug. 2001 - Feb. 2004), primarily by Ennis and Dillon, followed, succeeded in 2004 by an ongoing Ennis series under Marvel's mature-readers imprint, "MAX".

In November 2006, the Punisher returned in a new "The Punisher War Journal" (vol.2) series, written by Matt Fraction and penciled by Ariel Olivetti. The first three issues of the book are set during the Marvel "Civil War" event. It involves Castle taking on supervillains rather than his traditional non-super-powered criminal antagonists. He has also made appearances in the main "Civil War" series (issues 5, 6 and 7).

Marvel MAX

In Marvel's MAX imprint, the Punisher is set in the Marvel Universe but without superhero appearances. [http://www.comicbookmovie.com/news/articles/690.asp ComicBookMovie.com] [ [http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=120373 Max'Ing Out The Future: Axel Alonso Talks Marvel Max - Newsarama ] ] [ [http://www.comixtreme.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33068 PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #4 REVIEW - comiXtreme ] ] Frank Castle's timeline remained untouched when Marvel adjusted those of its other characters, with his history never altered or moved up in time. Promotional art for the cover of vol. 7, #44 (March 2007) gave his birth date as February 16, 1950, but that was removed for the published issues. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = thepunisher.com | coauthors = | title = thepunisher.com (January 2007) | work = | publisher =Adam Johnson | date= January 16, 2007 | url =http://www.thepunisher.com/past_news/january_2007/january_2007.html | format = | doi = | accessdate =2007-04-11] Castle has a well-maintained physical condition and health, in spite of his age.

The imprint also depicts the Punisher as having been an active vigilante for almost 30 years, with vol. 7, #19 (June 2005) specifying he had killed approximately 2,000 people.

Whereas the traditional Punisher stories remained within the United States and involved antagonists and settings of conventional domestic crime, stories of the MAX Punisher often focus on current events, ranging from corporate fraud to sexual slavery. Characters in these stories are all products of past or current environments, including operatives of the CIA, KGB, Secret Intelligence Service, SAS and militaries and militias from the Balkans and Middle East and terrorist cells like the IRA, all with agendas rooted in past conflicts like the Cold War or the Yugoslav wars.

In the miniseries "", by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Castle's roots are traced back to Vietnam, during his third tour, where he undergoes a psychological and possibly supernatural transformation into the Punisher in order to survive a massive assault on his fortification by the combined forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. The one-shot "Punisher: The Tyger", by Ennis and John Severin, went even further and showed that Castle had lived with murders, deaths and criminals from his childhood.

Fictional character biography

This capsule introduction appeared in "The Punisher" titles from 1987 to 1994: "When mobsters slew his family, Frank Castle vowed to spend the rest of his life avenging them. Trained as a Marine and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, he now wages a one-man war against crime as the Punisher".

Early life and military career

Born in Queens, New York to parents of Italian ancestry, the young Francis Castiglione originally studied to become a Roman Catholic priest, but changed his mind because he was unable to forgive those who did evil. Eventually, Castle would enlist in the United States Marine Corps becoming a U.S. Marine Captain. He married his wife Maria, who was already pregnant with their first child prior to his enlistment.

During his time in the USMC, Castle graduated from Recruit Training and then went on to Infantry School. Immediately after, he went through the USMC's Reconnaissance, Force Reconnaissance and Sniper Schools. Attaining dockets, Castle was permitted to go through U.S. Army Airborne School and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team training, becoming qualified as a Navy SEAL. While still in training, Castle met Phan Bighawk, a Native American scout. He was assigned to be Castle's guide, and through Phan, he learned how to survive in the wilderness. Following his training, Castle would serve in the Vietnam War in the Special Forces Unit as a point man. While still in his first tour, Castle met Lieutenant Burt Kenyon. Kenyon was a Marine serving in the same combat company as Castle in Vietnam. When the platoon came under fire, Castle was badly injured by a V.C. explosive and surrounded by the enemy. However, Kenyon calmly appeared, gunned down the Viet Cong and dragged Castle to safety. Kenyon said to Castle that he now owes him his life. Two months later, Kenyon was declared mentally unfit for service and was discharged. Years later, Kenyon became a hired assassin known as "The Hitman" and died in a battle against Castle.

After finishing his first tour of duty in Vietnam, he signed up for a second tour as a Scout Sniper. After finishing his second tour of duty in Vietnam, he came back to the United States and had a second child with his wife. He then signed up for a third tour to which he illegally re-entered the U.S. Marine Corps under the name of Frank Castle in order to return to battle.

It was during this tour in Viet Nam that he earned the "Punisher" nickname. [as recounted in "The 'Nam" #52-53]

During his third and final tour, Castle achieved the rank of Captain and fought in numerous engagements and was the only survivor (from both sides) of a combined assault of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army on Valley Forge Firebase in late 1971. Castle served a total of 4 years in the Vietnam War (1968 to 1971). For heroism in the line of duty, he was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, the Silver Star 3 times, Bronze Star, the Purple Heart 4 times, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Six years later (1976) after the American involvement in Vietnam ended, Castle ran Special Black Ops training missions for Marine Recon Commandos in the upper New York State area.

Death of family

In 1976, Castle, his wife, Maria and their children Lisa and Frank,Jr. were in New York's Central Park for an afternoon picnic. They witnessed a Mafia gangland execution; an informant had been hanged from a tree. To eliminate all witnesses, the Costa crime family gunned them down; only Castle survived. Even though Frank was able to identify all of the shooters, the police were unable to stop them; they were tied in too deeply to the powerful Costa family. Grieving over his family's death and outraged at the incompetence of the police, Castle decided that the only punishment criminals should receive is that of physical destruction. Shortly thereafter, he emblazoned his body armor with a symbol of a skull, and began his mission of punishing the guilty. [origin first recounted in "Marvel Preview" #2] His family's killers were some of the first to be slain. [recounted in "Marvel Super Action" #1]

Castle has since devoted his life to eradicating organized crime, using the "nom de guerre" of the Punisher, utilizing his combat experience (four years as a United States Marine Corps Captain), guerrilla warfare (assassinations, ambushes, hit and runs, bombings, weapons and supplies against them), urban warfare (using the crowded city of New York to blend in and disappear), psychological warfare (putting fear into the hearts of criminals), detective skills (talking to people, reading obtained files on the people he goes after, tracking and surveying the enemy), always adapting to the enemy (such as using the Mafia's own methods and tactics against them), and whatever resources and means may be necessary to do so, ranging from light anti-tank weaponry, to enraged polar bears, piranhas, and even a hydrogen bomb.

Vigilante crusade

The Punisher has fought virtually every known criminal organization including the Italian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Chinese Triads, Jamaican Yardies, the Irish Mob, biker gangs, street gangs, gunrunning militias, muggers, killers, rapists, psychopaths, violent racists, sadists, pedophiles, thieves, and corrupt city officials. He also assaults criminal business enterprises such as drugs, weapons smuggling, money laundering and human trafficking. The Punisher has been fighting organized crime for long enough that he knows their modus operandi and can often predict their actions. Many of these organizations have tried to kill the Punisher, using both their own men and hired contract killers.

In his first appearance, the Punisher was tricked by the Jackal into attempting to kill Spider-Man. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #129] He later teamed with Spider-Man to capture the Tarantula. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #135] He again teamed with Spider-Man to battle Moses Magnum. ["Giant-Size Spider-Man" #4] He teamed with Spider-Man and Nightcrawler to capture Jigsaw. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #161-162] He again teamed with Spider-Man against his old associate Burt Kenyon, now known as the Hitman. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #174-175] The Punisher later encountered Captain America. ["Captain America" #241] He teamed with Spider-Man once again against racketeers. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #201-202] He encountered Spider-Man as they both battled Doctor Octopus. ["Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #15]

While in prison later, the Punisher encountered Bullseye. ["Daredevil" #181] Castle's escape from prison was arranged by a government agent, and he stopped some drug smugglers. ["Daredevil" #182] He then battled Daredevil. ["Daredevil" #183-184]

The Punisher later tricked Boomerang into helping him escape prison. ["Spectacular Spider-Man" #81] He had been unwittingly drugged while in prison, and was temporarily driven insane. He encountered Spider-Man and Cloak and Dagger, and then attempted to kill the Kingpin. ["Spectacular Spider-Man" #82] He was then tried and committed to a mental institution. ["Spectacular Spider-Man" #83]

He was eventually restored to sanity, and sent to Ryker's Island Prison, but he escaped and resumed his war on crime. ["Punisher" Vol. 1 #1-5] He encountered Cloak and Dagger again, and Power Pack. ["Strange Tales" Vol. 3 #13-14] He was later captured by the Kingpin's men and mind-controlled by the Persuader. ["Spectacular Spider-Man" #140-143]

The Punisher later once again plotted the assassination of the Kingpin. ["Punisher" Vol. 2 #15-19] He then encountered Wolverine. ["Punisher War Journal" #6-7] He also encountered Moon Knight. ["Punisher Annual" #9] He then encountered Black Widow and the Shadowmasters. ["Punisher War Journal" #9] He next teamed with Moon Knight against ULTIMATUM. ["Moon Knight" Vol. 3 #8-9] He also encountered Doctor Doom. ["Punisher" Vol. 2 #28-29] He then encountered Paladin and the U.S. Agent. ["Punisher: No Escape"] He also encountered the Ghost Rider. ["Ghost Rider" Vol. 3 #5-6]

In his vigilante crusade, the Punisher has crossed paths with several costumed crime-fighters, including Spider-Man and Daredevil. These encounters have sometimes resulted in his incarceration. The Punisher has been rated as one of the most dangerous criminals alive. When he was incarcerated in New York’s Ryker's Island prison (a Marvel Universe version of real-life Rikers Island), though heavily outnumbered in gang fights, the Punisher had routinely killed armed, homicidal criminals with frightening ease, sustaining almost no injury. Due to his proficiency in fighting, he is rarely accosted in prison environments. Adhering to his military philosophies, the Punisher constantly trains whenever he is not out on action. He exercises fanatically to maintain his impressive physical conditioning and sticks to a balanced diet whenever possible.

The Punisher is highly mobile. He has many bases of operations and does not limit himself to working only in New York City. He has been to many places in the U.S. and around the globe, fighting crime in such places as Latin America, Europe, Russia and Afghanistan. The Punisher has an extensive criminal record due to his activities. The law enforcement community such as the police, the FBI, the CIA, Interpol and even S.H.I.E.L.D. are aware of his existence and have made many attempts to capture him; however, many rank-and-file law enforcement officials are reluctant to take action against him because most of them support his war on violent crime.

Relation with superhero community

While the Punisher most often fights normal criminals, he has also had run-ins with some of Marvel's superhuman villains, including Jackal, Bushwacker, Doctor Doom, The Reavers and Bullseye. Circumstances have even led him to battle Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, The Hulk and Wolverine, in addition to Marvel super-spy Nick Fury, although on other occasions, several superheroes become allies and partners for brief times. In regards to Nick Fury, the two of them share a working relationship based on respect and a common military background. Fury has provided Castle with information and assistance on more than one occasion, while Castle has undertaken covert missions at Fury's request.

Due to the Punisher's homicidal nature, few of his foes became recurring antagonists, the most notable of these being the severely scarred enforcer Jigsaw. The Punisher also acquired a nemesis in the form of the Kingpin, a longtime Spider-Man and Daredevil foe, and developed enmity with Daredevil himself, who likewise abhorred and fought against the Punisher's brutal methods.

On one occasion, Daredevil enlisted the assistance of Wolverine and Spider-Man in an attempt to put an end to Castle's activities once and for all. While Castle could not match even one of them in direct confrontation, and would not have killed them even if he had the opportunity (as he did not regard them as criminals), he still managed to create enough collateral damage that the three of them were forced to admit that capturing him was simply not worth the cost. As Castle pointed out, putting him in prison simply meant that he was going to kill everyone else in the prison with him. The three departed, realizing that short of killing him, there simply was no good answer to dealing with the Punisher.

Civil War & World War Hulk events

Before the Punisher takes part in the super human Civil War, he kills Stilt-Man, who was acting as a registered hero on Iron Man's side of the war. The Punisher was on a mission to kill a known child pornographer when Stilt-Man interrupted his stakeout, after the same man for arrest (who was already in police custody and sharing information with an FBI agent as part of a plea deal during the attack). The Punisher shortly reflects on how even though Stilt-Man seems to want to repent for his past, he still has a history of criminal activity including the deaths of innocents, and kills him and his intended pedophile target. He then begins to investigate who freed Stilt-Man and gave him a new suit, which leads him to "raftugee" Stuart Clarke. Clarke, who has a grudge on Iron Man from his days as a Stark Industries employee and Iron Man villain, reveals that it was Tony Stark who gave Stilt-Man the new technology. Clarke then gives him a device that detects the energy signature of Stark Technology, which leads the Punisher to find Spider-Man, who was being attacked by Thunderbolts members Jester and Jack O'Lantern. He kills the latter and then brings Spider-Man to the hideout of Captain America's unregistered side of heroes (which Peter was planning on joining), and proposes to join the team, "since the other guys started enlisting known thieves and convicted killers". Although most of the superheroes in the rebellion opposing the Superhuman Registration Act object to the Punisher joining their ranks even after he rescues Spider-Man, Captain America agrees to let him join on a limited basis as Castle's black ops experience was too valuable a resource to turn down. ["Civil War" #5 and "Punisher War Journal" vol. 2, #1] Following the rebellion's infiltration of the Negative Zone Prison, the Punisher kills the supervillains Plunderer and Goldbug who arrive peacefully to join the rebellion and Captain America immediately ejects him. After the surrender of Captain America, the Punisher picks up Cap's mask off the ground. Following the events of Civil War and the death of Captain America, the Punisher dons a hybrid Captain America costume designed by Stuart Clarke, who has been on the run with him from S.H.I.E.L.D. forces, while fighting the new Hate-Monger, who also wore a costume similar to Captain America's. [Beginning in "Punisher War Journal" vol. 2, #7, per [http://marvel.com/news/comicstories.889 "The New Captain America?" Marvel.com (March 13, 2007)] ] After killing Hate-Monger and disassembling his organization which was attacking encampments of people planning to illegally cross the American border, the Punisher confronts Captain America's ex-partner, the Winter Soldier, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He claims that taking on the identity of the deceased Cap would be "too heavy for (him) to carry", and gives him the key to the hidden lock box that contains Captain America's mask.

During the events known as "World War Hulk", the Punisher kills the rampaging alien Mung the Inconceivable of the Warbound using a specially designed power-augmenting suit constructed by Stuart Clarke. The suit was similar in concept to that of Venom's, but was less durable and non-sentient.

Training, skills and abilities

The Punisher is a seasoned combat veteran of exceptional skills. A former U.S. Marine Captain with a distinguished combat record, Castle underwent Reconnaissance, Force Reconnaissance and Scout Sniper training while in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attained dockets that permitted him to train with the U.S. Army Airborne School and the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team, becoming qualified as a Navy SEAL.List of Frank Castle training/schools

-United States Marine Corps Boot Camp

-United States Marine Corps School of Infantry

-Marine Sniper School

-SERE

-Basic Reconnaissance Course while at Marine Corps School of Infantry

-BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/SEAL)

-United States Army Airborne School

-Australian Special Air Service Regiment (while on exchange with Australian military forces in Vietnam)

With his extensive military training, Castle is well versed in conventional and unconventional warfare. He is a master military strategist and tactician. Castle is proficient in not only basic infantry skills, but in special operations which includes the use and maintenance of specialized firearms and explosive ordnance. He is also thoroughly trained and experienced in guerilla warfare and counter terrorism. He is highly trained in various forms of camouflage, stealth and infiltration into heavily-guarded enemy territories and structures for the purpose of Search and Destroy, Combat Search and Rescue or Reconnaissance missions. Castle is a skilled Paratrooper and Frogman. His hand-to-hand combat skills are more than sufficient to allow him to incapacitate and kill men much stronger than he is, as well as to deal with groups of armed and unarmed enemies, killing them all without weapons if he deems it necessary. He is also extremely deadly in knife fighting, preferring the knife he learned to fight with in the USMC: the KA-BAR. In addition, he is a trained combat medic capable of providing battlefield medicine. Castle's military training and his years of vigilantism have made him a master of interrogation and coercion. He achieves this through brutal intimidation either by physical or psychological tactics. Castle has also displayed an exceptionally high tolerance for pain, allowing him to undergo surgery without anesthesia.

Castle is an athletic man who has received U.S. Marine training in hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, marksmanship, and weaponry. He has also undergone recon training, and has earned his UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) certification.

Weapons

The Punisher's ever-changing arsenal of weaponry includes automatic and semiautomatic rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, handguns, fragmentation and tear gas grenades, other various explosives, and combat knives. He maintains and stores all his weapons and supplies in warehouses and safehouses throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states.

The Punisher often customizes his weapons for greater effectiveness with both standard and custom items including magnified optics, reflex sights, night vision scopes, flashlights, grenade launchers, sound and flash suppressors, bipods, high-capacity magazines and ammunition including hollow point and armor piercing bullets.

Throughout the Punisher's crusade, he occasionally uses high-tech vehicles. His early series feature armored combat "battle vans" specially built and customized by his then-partner, Microchip. These vans were heavily armored, loaded with high-powered ammunitions with advanced telecommunication capabilities. Castle used these vans for surveillance and weapons transportation. He has also used motorcycles, helicopters, speed boats, or whatever else he could find and use.

The Punisher's preferred side arm is a .45 caliber Colt 1911 pistol. When engaging large groups, he generally uses an M60 machine gun, one hand holding the trigger while the other feeds the belt. When engaging smaller groups, he usually uses either an AK-47 or an M16 with an M203 grenade launcher.

A partial listing of weapons the Punisher has used includes the M16 .223 caliber automatic rifle; Sterling Mark 6 9mm. semi-automatic rifle; 9mm. Browning Llama automatic pistol; .45 caliber automatic frame re-chambered for 9mm. ammunition; .223 caliber Derringer; M26 fragmentation grenades; concussion grenades; tear-gas grenades; and a Gerber Mark II Combat knife.

At one point, the Punisher had a pet Rottweiler, "Max", which he had saved from a dog fighting ring.

Costume

The Punisher's first outfit was a form-fitting black Kevlar bodysuit with a large white skull on his chest. According to the character, this draws the attention of the criminals to aim at his heavily armored body instead of his more vulnerable head. Each tooth of the skull is actually spare ammunition for firearms. Castle has used this costume on occasion in mid-2000s stories before "The Punisher War Journal" (vol.2). In both the "Marvel Knights" and MAX imprints, the Punisher's attire consists of a black t-shirt with a white skull on the chest, black jeans or cargo trousers, black combat boots, and a black trench coat.

Personality

The Punisher differs from the majority of comic book protagonists. Whereas all are vigilantes in that they work outside the traditional system of law and order, the Punisher is one who works outside the "traditional" rules, because he does not feel remorse in killing. This often creates friction when he is forced to work alongside heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Daredevil, many of whom abide by a "no-killing" rule which they insist he follow during collaborative efforts. He has also worked alongside Wolverine a number of times, which is a somewhat more successful partnership. While Wolverine also has little problem resorting to lethal force himself, his views on guilt or innocence and good or evil aren't as narrowly construed as those of the Punisher's, which has been a contributing factor to the two fighting against one another as often as they've worked together.

The Punisher possesses no superhuman abilities and succeeds solely through ingenuity and the rigorous training of his military upbringing, a finely honed killer instinct and an extensive arsenal of weapons culled from fallen foes and military allies.

Unlike most comic book heroes, Castle also has no dual identity, no "real world" job, no known hobbies, and few friends. He spends nearly all of his time planning his next hit, stopping only to recover from injuries or fatigue. Money taken from criminals is used to purchase food, weapons, ammunition, and pay the rent of his many safehouses.

The Punisher also disregards what the police and the public think of him, and has been known to kill corrupt cops. But in an event that he kills an innocent person, he will voluntarily turn himself in to justice. ["Amazing Spider-Man" #161] He is viewed as a dangerous criminal by the public and by most members of the superhero community, but many law enforcement personnel move against him only very reluctantly, because many honest police officers and federal agents view his actions as beneficial since he goes after criminals and corrupt officials who feel they are beyond the law.

As for the background of his name, "The Punisher", two opinions exist. The more widely accepted and obvious one is that he is there to punish criminals and provide retribution and justice when the civil system cannot. The Punisher has no faith in the criminal justice system and believes that only the execution of criminals provides true justice, and provides revenge for the murder of his family. Another possibility (according to Marvel editor Carl Potts from the foreword to The Punisher TPB) for the name The Punisher is that Castle is punishing himself. He was not able to save his family from their murder, and the guilt has racked him ever since. For his own personal retribution he constantly puts himself in incredibly dangerous situations and has withdrawn from any resemblance of a normal life. Therefore he is punishing himself for failing his family.

Castle's years of vigilantism have made him increasingly cynical about the capabilities of the American justice system, especially in regard to its failure to successfully prosecute his family's homicide, due to the witnessed killer's false alibi and the mob's influence in the New York City Police Department. During Don Daley's run on "The Punisher" title, his version of justice was classically based as "an eye for an eye". ["The Punisher" #98 (Jan. 1995): letters page] Throughout the "Marvel Knights" run of "The Punisher", the given reason Castle kills those he regards as criminals (which include both circumstantially alleged and incontrovertible individuals) is his desire not to see average people becoming victims of crime and enduring the same kind of pain and loss he experienced. In the "MAX" comics, the Punisher vowed to live the rest of his life punishing those who commit violent acts against society.

The way writers have approached the Punisher's response to the criminal justice system has changed many times over the years, though not since his earliest days as a standalone character (when he would occasionally use "mercy bullets" to make his actions more palatable) has the Punisher been portrayed as a hero. When originally conceived, his approach was hard-edged, and frowned upon by more heroic characters, such as Spider-Man. While that much remains true, the 2000s have seen a more considered take on the character's behavior. There are repeated references to the Punisher's contradictory and paradoxical views on the criminal justice system, though in general Castle never addresses his morality in any depth; he justifies his actions through such generalizations as, "That's another monster gone." Minor characters who question his motivation sometimes reach violent ends, with Castle refusing discussion and turning violent if pressed. Even villains have sometimes pointed out the web of justifications and rationalizations within which the Punisher operates.

Castle has also stated he does not want others to follow his path, on the grounds that his personal war against criminals is his alone, and he harbors resentment toward other (usually short-lived) vigilantes, taking exception at what he sees as their lack of "professionalism". [See the 1986 miniseries "The Punisher" and the 2000 "Marvel Knights" 12-issue miniseries.]

Other versions

In other media

Film

*A film adaptation was directed by Mark Goldblatt (later the film editor of "") and written by Boaz Yakin. It starred Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher with Louis Gossett, Jr. The film's most recognizable deviation from the comic books is the lack of the character's signature skull logo.

*A second film adaptation was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh (who wrote "") and starred Thomas Jane for the lead role with John Travolta as the main villain Howard Saint. This movie adaptation was more faithful to the comic book and was loosely based on the "Welcome Back, Frank" comic. It was released in the U.S. on April 16, 2004. It was met with mixed reviews by critics and earned $33.8 million at the box office. Lionsgate came with a limited edition (10,000 produced) mini-comic book written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, chronicling Castle's time in Delta Force in the Gulf War, and later in the FBI. An extended cut was released on November 21, 2006. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = DVD The Man Room | work = | publisher = | date = | url = http://dvd.themanroom.com/dvd-detail.php?id=3330 | format = | doi = | accessdate = ] It includes 17 minutes of additional footage, as well as a new animated introduction sequence known as the "Kuwait scene" with illustrations of Tim Bradstreet.

*A third film, entitled "" is set to be released on December 5, 2008, but will have no relation with the 2004 film. [ [http://www.marvel.com/news/moviestories.1999.First_Look_at_Punisher:_War_Zone First Look at Punisher: War Zone - Marvel.com News ] ] It is directed by Lexi Alexander with Ray Stevenson in the Punisher role and Dominic West as the villain Jigsaw.

Television

*Punisher made three appearances in the 1990s "", voiced by John Beck. He first appears in the seventh and eighth episodes of the second season, and later appears in the eighth episode of season four. Due to the requirements for children's programming, Punisher was restricted to using non-lethal weapons which took the form of concussion blast energy weapons or gimmick guns such as electrified net launchers.

*In the "1992 X-Men TV series" episode "Days of Future Past part 1", two children are seen holding a video game cartridge called "Assassin", with the Punisher on the cover of the video game. The game was produced by "Marbles", an obvious play on "Marvel".Fact|date=October 2008

*A robot duplicate of the Punisher also appeared in the season two episode of the "1992 X-Men TV series" entitled "Mojovision", attacking Wolverine and Jean Grey. [cite web|url=http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/episode/mojovision|title=Marvel Toonzone|accessdate=2007-05-28]

Video games

*"The Punisher" for Arcade and Sega Mega Drive, developed by Capcom, was a side-scrolling beat 'em up in the vein of "Double Dragon" in which the Punisher and/or Nick Fury would engage various foes in hand-to-hand combat, occasionally drawing firearms in lieu of melee combat.

*"The Punisher" computer game for the Amiga and PC [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Moby Games | work = | publisher = | date = | url = http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/punisher/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = ] featured three different modes of gameplay: driving the Punisher's battle van, gunplay on foot and scuba diving.

*A "Punisher" game was also released for the Game Boy system. It played in a manner similar to "Operation Wolf", and featured a cameo appearance by Spider-Man. The Kingpin was the final boss in all versions except for Game Boy, which used Jigsaw.

*For the NES system, the Punisher starred in a titular, side-scrolling action game that allows players to control an aiming cursor in an over-the-shoulder shooting-gallery environment.

*The Punisher makes a cameo appearance in the 2000 PlayStation Spider-Man game, with Daran Norris providing his voice. The Punisher leads Spider-Man to "Warehouse 65", where Spider-Man must stop the symbiote cloning process. After Spider-Man foils Doctor Octopus, the Punisher is last seen playing cards with Spider-Man, Daredevil and Captain America.

*He was mentioned by name at the beginning of the 2005 multiplatform game "", and a torn piece of his shirt can be seen hanging in the cinematic opening.

*On January 18, 2005, a new "The Punisher" game was released for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC. It was developed by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ. Extremely violent, it directly draws upon the character's 2000s comic books. Some critics have praised the script and such innovations as brutal interrogation/torture sequences.Fact|date=January 2007 Others have criticizedFact|date=January 2007 the game's use of obscuring effects (such as removal of color to create a black-and-white image) during violent scenes to retain an ESRB rating of M for Mature. By one month after the game's release, it had sold over 2 million copies.Fact|date=January 2007

*, an arena-based first-person shooter, is in development for the PlayStation 3, to be released exclusively on the PlayStation Network. [cite web|url=http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/punisher-no-mercy-unleashed-playstationrnetwork/story.aspx?guid={E2030AC5-708C-4CBF-91D0-659ABA1652D2}&dist=hppr|title=The Punisher: No Mercy to Be Unleashed on the PLAYSTATION(R)Network|date=2008-09-24|accessdate=2008-09-25|publisher=Market Watch]

Toys

* Toy Biz released an action figure of the Punisher around 1994, based on the TV show "Spider-Man, the animated Series".

*The Punisher appears in the "Marvel Legends" toy-line in series 4,6 and 8, modeled after his movie appearance, the "Urban Legends" boxed set, in the "Face Off" two-pack series in his classic outfit, and a variant similar to Tim Bradstreet's design.

*The Punisher was given an action figure in the second series of Hasbro 12-inch Icons. The figure's design was based on Bradstreet's art.

*Another figure in the upcoming series 4 of Hasbro's Marvel Legends as been announced, this one also based on Bradstreet's art with a camouflaged variant similar to his appearance in a level of the Playstation 2 game.

*The Punisher was also produced as an action figure in the Marvel Select toy line. His appearance is again modeled after Tim Bradstreet's art.

Popular culture

*In rock music, Dave Mustaine, a front man of the heavy metal band Megadeth, noted that the hit songs "Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!" and "Holy Wars... the Punishment Due" were inspired by the Punisher, which Mustaine afterward stopped reading, stating "it's been commercialized". [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Megadeth Rockmetal interview | work = | publisher = | date = | url = http://megadeth.rockmetal.art.pl/interviews_guitarschool1993.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = ] .
*Also in rock, the Punisher's voice can be heard at the end of power metal band Edguy's 2005 song "Superheroes"
*A reference to the character is made by rapper B Smooth in the Song "Tequila Sunrise" (on album "IV" by rap band Cypress Hill) : "Nothing personal, when niggaz acting like they helping you / I fuckin blast you like Frank Castle, motherfucker!"

*The character Big Shot from the animated TV series The Tick is a parody of the Punisher.
*In sports racing, Lions Gate Entertainment partnered with Kodak and Penske Racing ran a Punisher-themed race car driven by Brendan Gaughan during the March 28th, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup at Bristol Motor Speedway to promote the 2004 film. Actor Thomas Jane was present.

Footnotes

External links

*comicbookdb|type=character|id=161|title=The Punisher
* [http://marvel.com/universe/Punisher The Punisher] on the Marvel home page


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