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The Punisher ( engl. : Bestrafer) is a fictional character in the Marvel comics . He is a criminal hunter who practices vigilante justice and does not shy away from violent practices such as killing, kidnapping, extortion, coercion and torture. Driven by the murder of his wife and children, Frank Castle wages a campaign of revenge against all criminals. As a war veteran, Castle is a master at hand-to-hand combat, camouflage, strategic planning, and the use of various weapons.

Publication history


The Punisher first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man No. 129 in 1974. This comic was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ross Andru . The appearance of the Punisher, however, was by John Romita Sr. designed. In the story, the Punisher was initially an enemy of Spider-Man , but only because he was manipulated by the super villain Jackal , who persuaded him that Spider-Man was a criminal. The character of the punisher was extremely successful from the start and made guest appearances in several Spider-Man magazines and other Marvel series during the 1970s.

First series

In the early 1980s, the illustrator Mike Zeck and the writer Steven Grant proposed to publish their own Punisher comic series. Marvel initially struggled with the idea of ​​a serial hero who killed criminals in cold blood. But since crime rates were rising sharply in the USA at the time , the publisher decided to try to publish a mini-series, but not to advertise it. The first issue appeared in January 1986 and was announced as the first of four issues. Since this issue was sold out in a very short time, Marvel decided to expand the miniseries to five issues and to promote it.

The following year (1987) the first permanent series appeared under the name The Punisher . This series was initially written by Mike Baron and drawn by Klaus Janson . The series had a total of 104 issues in the period July 1987 to July 1995 and generated two permanent offshoots : The Punisher War Journal (vol. 1) (80 issues, November 1988 to July 1995) and The Punisher War Zone (41 issues, March 1992 to July 1995). In addition, 16 issues of a black and white comic called The Punisher Magazine appeared between November 1989 and September 1990 , and in 1990 The Punisher Armory (10 issues), which contained a fictional diary of the Punisher, was launched. The Punisher also appeared in several individual volumes (so-called One Shots ), mini-series and often had guest appearances in other Marvel comics.


In 1995, Marvel stopped all ongoing Punisher series because of poor sales. In the same year a new start was tried with a new series under the old title ( The Punisher ). It was written by John Ostrander and in it the Punisher apparently worked willingly for organized crime, fighting the X-Men as well as Nick Fury . Between November 1998 and February 1999, Christopher Golden wrote a miniseries consisting of four issues that showed a Punisher risen from the dead as a supernatural being with angels and demons .


Under the Marvel Knights label , a twelve-issue mini-series by author Garth Ennis and illustrator Steve Dillon was created between April 2000 and March 2001 , which had a good dose of black humor , which had a positive effect on the character's popularity. The result was a permanent series, which between August 2001 and February 2004 made a total of 37 issues. This series was replaced in 2004 by a series still written by Ennis under the Marvel label MAX , which is aimed primarily at adult readers. Since November 2006 there is a new series under the title The Punisher War Journal (vol.2) , written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Ariel Olivetti . The first three issues deal with the multi-series history of Marvel's Civil War .

Marvel MAX series

The Marvel MAX version of the punisher also takes place in the Marvel universe, but in a version without superheroes . Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's Born miniseries sheds light on Castle's previous involvement in the Vietnam War . The single volume Punisher: The Tyger by Ennis and John Severin goes even further and shows that Castle was surrounded by murderers, dead and criminals throughout his life. The MAX version of the Punisher ages in real time , making him older than other Marvel characters. In this series he is almost sixty years old, but in extremely good physical and health condition. According to the author Ennis, this punisher was a crime fighter for thirty years and killed thousands of people.

Creation of the character

The Punisher (aka Frank Castle) was born during a nice picnic in the park with his family, when criminals showed up who were hired to shoot Frank because he was the only cop in the area who was not for sale. The criminals shot all of them, only Frank survived seriously injured. After recovering from his wounds, Frank vowed to put an end to any criminal.

In an alternate version, which also became the most common backstory, Castle was a highly decorated member of the US Marines . His children accidentally witnessed a Mafia murder at a picnic , and having no witnesses, the Mafia henchmen shot the entire family down. Only Castle survived and swore blood revenge on the criminals, benefiting from his knowledge of hand-to-hand combat, military tactics, and heavy weapons.

The Punisher is a master at the use of military weapons and an unrivaled hand-to-hand fighter, whom even superheroes have little to oppose. Unlike classic superheroes, the Punisher mercilessly executes criminals and thus co-founded the category of antiheroes in comics. The Punisher is one of the few superheroes who do not have “superpowers”. Similar to Batman , he is driven by his need for justice. The other Marvel heroes more or less tolerate the Punisher, but despise his methods. Once Spider-Man , Daredevil and Wolverine tried to stop him together, but they failed.



Microchip: Micro is the punisher's first sidekick and was his companion back in the early 1990s. Both have a similar fate: The Punisher had lost his entire family to gangsters, Micro his son. Micro is the typical sidekick in the form of a technical genius. Micro prepares and builds the equipment for the Punisher such as his Battle Van and many smaller gimmicks . The relationship between Micro and the Punisher is especially interesting because they are completely different characters. This also leads to conflicts such as in the "Punisher Warzone" series, in which Micro leaves the Punisher for several weeks after an argument, but ultimately returns. Meanwhile, Micro has completely disappeared from the series. In the first storyline of the Punisher stories under the "MAX" label, which is intended for adult comic stories, Micro reappeared (years after his alleged death). However, since he worked with shady characters, he was punished by Castle in the end, that is, killed.

Detective Soap: Soap is the later sidekick of the punisher. He often involuntarily provides him with information about the mafia and other criminals. In return, the Punisher has already saved the lives of soaps several times. The relationship between Soap and the Punisher becomes interesting because Soap tends to fear the Punisher and it never really becomes clear how Frank feels about Soap. In the until recently current comic series "Welcome back Frank", Soap was promoted to police chief thanks to the punisher, who handed him compromising photos of the previous police chief. Soap was generally more popular than Micro. After the series switched to the MAX label, soap was also removed from the plot, as its nature as a rather funny sidekick did not suit the new direction. The Punisher currently has no sidekick.


One of the Punisher's worst arch enemies is Jigsaw . Once a handsome criminal by the name of Billy Russo (in the PC game John Saint) then nicknamed "The Beauty", his face is now badly mutilated and covered in scars. It got this look when the Punisher pushed it through a bulletproof glass pane. Severely injured, he survived, but there wasn't enough of his face to be fully restored. He then directed all his efforts towards eliminating Frank Castle. In the movie Punisher: War Zone , Jigsaw is played by actor Dominic West . Naturally, the Punisher has few recurring opponents, as he kills most of them - sooner or later; most often the police (rarely Spider-Man) get in his way. Despite his hatred of anything criminal, Castle often had to reluctantly cooperate with other criminals, for example to smuggle his weapons or obtain information.

Film adaptations

  • In the first film adaptation of Punisher ( The Punisher , 1989) he was played by Dolph Lundgren . Directed by Mark Goldblatt . The Punisher appears in this film without his identification mark, the skull on his chest. The film was shown in Germany in a version cut by approx. 5 minutes.
  • In 2012, Thomas Jane presented the self-produced 10-minute short film The Punisher: Dirty Laundry at San Diego Comic Con , in which he slips back into the role of the antihero after 8 years. Jane said he produced the film because he still has a great passion for the character of the Punisher. In addition to Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman can also be seen in a supporting role
  • In August 2014 the Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher was released on Blu-Ray & DVD. In this anime , the Punisher is taken into custody by Black Widow and SHIELD and forced to work with Black Widow to stop a terrorist organization.

Video games

At least six games have officially appeared under the Punisher logo. There was a whole series of shooters for the Nintendo systems Game Boy , NES and SNES , another shooter for the Commodore Amiga , a primarily tactical PC game from Microprose , a beat 'em up for slot machines from Capcom and one for the PC and all current consoles from Volition at the publisher THQ .

The Punisher (1990, by The Edge for Commodore Amiga)

The game is a shooter game in the style of such titles as "Operation Wolf" or "Operation Thunderbolt". The main character is invisible and immobile. The player only has the option of moving a crosshair on the screen via mouse input and shooting at randomly appearing opponents. Sometimes it is also possible to choose the direction of movement, i.e. the next picture, at junctions. The game was indexed because it was classified as harmful to minors and inhuman.

The Punisher (1993, by Capcom for arcade machines)

This game is based on the Capcom game Final Fight, which was already popular in 1993, and has similarities to the Capcom game Alien vs. Predator , which is also based on Final Fight. Capcom's "The Punisher" from 1993 is a beat 'em up . The peculiarity of all Final Fight clones is that, unlike in the classic Beat'em Up, you not only fight duels, but also take on whole groups and also have access to weapons and other objects lying around. The player has the opportunity to put himself in the shoes of the Punisher or Nick Fury, who is an old comrade of the Punisher. Both characters only differ graphically and are used primarily to be able to play the game in pairs. Capcom uses the punisher's Marvel scenario only to a tiny extent. Many enemies do not appear in the comics and characters known from the comics are shown differently. The technical differences to Final Fight are minimal. The only specialty of the game, compared to other Beat'em Ups from Capcom, are the short scenes between the fights, in which the violent nature of the punisher comes out and where even the brutal Fury seems downright harmless.

The Punisher (2004, by Volition for Windows, Xbox and Playstation 2 )

This game is a third-person shooter in which the player takes on the role of Frank Castle, the Punisher. The game is considered extremely controversial and has been banned in several countries. Even in Poland, where there are no official age limits for games, it has been marked as a game over 18 years of age. At first the game is about killing some gangsters. But then a war begins in the underworld, in which street gangs, the Italian and Russian mafia, the yakuza and the gangsters of the Kingpin are involved. In the end, it all leads to a well-known archenemy of the punisher. The story draws itself vaguely on the "Welcome Back Frank" comic series that was released when it came out, and characters like Detective Soap, Molly, "The Russian", Joan and Dave appear. There are also some parallels to the 2004 film, which is based on the same comic series. Most of the story is told in the form of Frank's confessions during police interrogation. Technically speaking, the game is a third-person shooter in the style of Max Payne , but with certain controversial "features" added. The interrogations, in particular, ensured that the game landed on the index. For example, it is possible to kick enemies in the face, hit them with a forklift, or perform many other such actions. These must be "carefully" controlled so that the victim does not die before information is received. The game is one of the few that landed on the German index without delay. In America, too, the game had to be defused, so that a color filter was placed over the most brutal methods of killing. Opinions about the game are divided. On the one hand, the game is obviously extremely violent and brutal, but fans of the comics in particular emphasize that everything is supported by a moral basis and is defused with the irony known from the comics .


T-shirts with the Punisher logo, a highly stylized skull, are very popular in various scenes.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. About Punisher: Dirty Laundry at Cinemablend.com (English); Accessed: July 17, 2012.