TROUBLE CITY

The Most Punishing Punisher Stories Ever.

ArticlesNick PeronComment

Hello once again Trouble City residents! Hope you're enjoying the release of The Punisher on Netflix. With any long-running comic book franchise, there are always going to be moments where the writers deliver what can only be described as pure insanity. In his 43 years of publication, the Punisher is no different. Today we'd like to share some of the weirder moments of that have seen print over the years.

5.) The Punisher Goes Overkill Because Drugs.

The Punisher's M.O. is the elimination of criminals, but where is the line drawn? For the most part, the Punisher has gone after organized crime, street-level thugs, and costumed super-villains. It appears there is a line as to what the Punisher deems an offense that requires immediate execution right? Well in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #82, writer Bill Mantlo took the Punisher's crusade against crime to some ridiculous extremes. After breaking out of prison, the Punisher continues his campaign against crime, however this time goes after people over the smallest infractions. 

My carbon footprint deals in lead.

My carbon footprint deals in lead.

In this story, the Punisher opens fire on an abusive husband (fair), a litter bug (seriously?) and a cab driver who sped through a red light. I should point out that the cab driver only ran the red because there was a fucking lunatic opening fire on people on the street. Later in the same story, the Punisher is knocked out during a fight with the Kingpin and turned over to the police. The following issue, focuses heavily on the Punisher bring brought to trail for his vigilante activities.

His lawyer tries to get him found not legally responsible by reason of insanity instead of rotting away in prison. This causes the gun-toting lunatic to lose his shit right in the courtroom.

I wonder if Frank Castle ever wrote a song for the Beach Boys?

I wonder if Frank Castle ever wrote a song for the Beach Boys?

This was so uncharacteristic of the character that it had to be addressed in Steve Grant's Punisher limited series shortly thereafter. In this story arc, it was explained that the Punisher was actually drugged, hence the crazy behavior.

I thought those beans tasted a little off....

I thought those beans tasted a little off....

This goes back to when the Punisher was arrested and in prison, one of his enemies arranged it so that his food was drugged. Instead of doing something practical like poisoning him, or hiring some guy to ventilate him with a sharpened toothbrush, they went with this really elaborate, and convoluted plot.

4) Punisher Joins the Mob

The give away should have been the lack of burning skin.

The give away should have been the lack of burning skin.

In the late 80s and early 90s the Punisher was at the height of his popularity. During that time he had three on-going series, a handful of limited series, and a number of one-shots. However, the comic implosion of the mid-90's brought that gravy train to an end. It was the era where comics were awful and bad decisions were bleeding Marvel to the point of bankruptcy. 

During this period John Ostrander decided to shake things up a little. During his own Punisher run, he did a story where the Punisher was arrested and given the electric chair. However, this was only to fake the vigilante's death. The Punisher then decided that the best way to strike at crime now was from the inside, so he joined the mob.

This whole "faked death" situation didn't last very long considering Frank was still running around shooting people while wearing a skull shirt. The Punisher grew a ponytail (ick) and even butted heads with SHIELD until he becomes a member of the group even though he killed Nick Fury. About that...

3) Oh Yeah, the Punisher Killed Nick Fury (Aka the Punisher Goes Overkill Because Drugs, Again!)

In the big bad 90s, Marvel was creating all sorts of status-quo shaking events and pumping them out with all sorts of fancy covers. The most notable events being the classic Age of Apocalypse and much maligned Spider-Man Clone Saga. During this period, Marvel also ran an event called Double Edge, which centered around their "edgy" characters. Punisher, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Blaze, and basically every leather-clad, gun toting, anti-hero Marvel had in their roster that was worth a damn appeared in this one.

In this event, the Punisher is brainwashed with drugs, hypnosis, and psychotherapy to make him think that Nick Fury, the director of SHIELD, was responsible for the murder of Frank Castle's family. 

Let's see that Kite Eating Tree stop me now!

Let's see that Kite Eating Tree stop me now!

Naturally, the Punisher went after Nick Fury and put him down. In the end, the Punisher seemingly killed Nick Fury then his brain was turned to mush by the Ghost Rider's penance stare. 

Say what you will about the Nick Fury death scene, the X-Men had a great branding strategy.

Say what you will about the Nick Fury death scene, the X-Men had a great branding strategy.

Obviously, killing Nick Fury didn't last very long. There was a convoluted plot that revealed that this was actually a Life Model Decoy, and the real Nick Fury was trapped in a pocket dimension, and here you were thinking the introduction of the black Nick Fury Jr. in the mainstream Marvel universe was convoluted.

2) Punished By An Angel

Who doesn't have days like this?

Who doesn't have days like this?

Just before the millennium, the people at Marvel decided to change things up with the Punisher more than ever before. This time, demons convince him to commit suicide. That would have made for a short series if it weren't for an angel in a friggin' business suit turning him into an assassin for heaven.

Now before you even start saying that sounds stupid, I'm not done yet. The Punisher is sent to eliminate targets for heaven using ectoplasmic guns. So basically, the Punisher was like Ghost Rider, only without the motorcycle and flaming skull head.

you got a little something on your forehead.

you got a little something on your forehead.

As you can imagine, this change was widely panned. When they brought the Punisher back to basics, they hired Garth Ennis to do it. Ennis dealt with the unpleasantness of the whole "heaven's assassin" thing with the treatment it deserved.

You know your comic book is in trouble when you hire Garth Ennis to clean things up.

You know your comic book is in trouble when you hire Garth Ennis to clean things up.

1.) You Make Man? No, Punisher.

If you thought nonsense Punisher storylines were a product of the 90s, think again! In the 2000s, Garth Ennis continued to crank out great Punisher stories under the Marvel Max imprint. However, the House of Ideas wanted to have the Punisher active in the Marvel Universe proper. This led to him fighting super-villains, aliens, and all other sorts of foes that were out of his wheelhouse. As gratifying as it was seeing the Punisher take out Stilt-Man with a bazooka, having him trying to be the next Captain America was absurd.

However, this wasn't the most ridiculous of things that happened in recent times. That distinction goes to writer Rick Remender during the Dark Reign event. In Dark Reign - The List: Punisher, the vigilante gets hacked to death by Norman Osborn's "Dark" Wolverine.

At least this death is more dignified.

At least this death is more dignified.

Now if I need to tell you that death doesn't mean dick-all in comic books, then you're probably one of those people who gets upset by trivial things. For the rest of you, you obviously know the Punisher wasn't dead for good. His body chunks were collected by monsters who turned him into the limbering brute dubbed Franken-Castle.

I've woken up from plenty of nights drinking with that look on my face.

I've woken up from plenty of nights drinking with that look on my face.

This led to a series of stories where the Punisher is fighting monsters. Which again, lasted about as long as the time when he was an angel. Wouldn't you know it, once the novelty wore off they brought the Punisher back to normal through magic, because when you're trying to be derivative, it's always best to do what works best.