The Punisher: 7 Essential Stories You Must Read

The Punisher is one of those strange characters – his logo is instantly recognisable and he has a lot of...

Neil Thomason

Contributor

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The Punisher is one of those strange characters – his logo is instantly recognisable and he has a lot of name value and yet despite this he doesn’t have the popularity of a Batman or a Spider-Man. This could be partly down to three poorly received films – 1989′s The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren, 2004′s Garth Ennis influenced version starring Thomas Jane and the ultraviolent (albeit straight to DVD) Punisher: War Zone with Ray Stevenson perfectly cast as Frank Castle – or maybe because his ultraviolent and uncompromising nature makes it near on impossible for him to be mass marketed. But with his iconic black and white skull-shirt and gruff Dirty Harry demeanor, the story of Frank Castle – a former Marine who engages in a one-man war on crime after his family is viciously gunned down in front of him – is one that strikes a chord with people due to its simplicity and grounded emotions, and since his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 in 1974, the Punisher has laid claim to some of the most compelling and vicious stories in the medium of comics.

Often times the character has been shackled by the constraints of the genre – it’s hard to be ultraviolent when the company he is printed under is known for its tameness – and for this reason The Punisher has pretty much become the flag bearer of Marvel’s MAX imprint since its inception in 2004.

Kind souls that we are at WhatCulture, we have chosen some of the best Punisher stories for you to add to your ever burgeoning ‘to read’ list. Be warned however – the words ‘Garth’ and ‘Ennis’ appear an awful lot here.

Please note – the following are in no particular order…