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40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #40-36

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In honor of the Punisher debuting on Daredevil’s Netflix series next week, we’re counting down your picks for the forty greatest Punisher stories.

You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 40 Greatest Punisher Stories!


40. “Ministry of Death” (Punisher Vol.2 #4-5)

The original creative team on the Punisher’s first ongoing series was Mike Baron and Klaus Janson. Their initial storyline was a cool one involving the drug war, complete with a classic cover for the first issue with Punisher pointing a bazooka at some bad guys.

After a breather issue, Baron and Janson’s second storyline introduced Microchip as the Punisher’s aide and also introduced us to the Rev, a religious madman who has a healing touch. He saves the Punisher’s life (who is undercover in the Rev’s cult to try to get a woman in the cult to come back to her husband with her kid, who she’s brought with her) and the Punisher has a hard time reconciling it all, the fact that he DID save his life, ya know?





Janson’s art really served the Punisher well.

39. “The Rachel Alves Saga” (Punisher Vol.9 #1-16)

This one is weird, since the votes for this story were almost all for the first volume, which is fair enough, but then I thought, “Eh, it IS true that the first volume was very much just setting up the longer arc,” so since it didn’t matter to the voting, I’m just going to lump the whole volume in together, even though part of the story will show up on the countdown tomorrow.

Anyhow, Greg Rucka was the only constant on the creative team of this series (Marco Checchetto was the initial artist) which introduced us to Rachel Cole Alves, whose husband and all of his and her family were murdered on their wedding day (she had just gotten back from serving overseas as a Marine Sergeant). She managed to survive and then decided to take down the villainous organization known as The Exchange and she ends up working together with the Punisher…





38. “River of Blood” (Punisher War Zone #31-36)

In this classic six-part story by Chuck Dixon and the legendary Joe Kubert, the Punisher gets involved in taking on the Russian mob and is aided in his battle by a Russian vigilante. They almost take down the bad guys in New York…





but then Punisher must take his particular brand of vengeance to Russia. Kubert was such an awesome artist. And Dixon knew how to give him some awesome stuff to draw.

Go to the next page for #37-36!

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I almost voted for “The Devil Inside and Out”, but thought there wasn’t enough Punisher for it to qualify. I am glad it made the list.

I like seeing all the Dixon/Baron stories here before it inevitably turns into a Garth Ennis countdown special.

I was a little bit surprised that Ennis hasn’t already started showing up.

I would have put The Final Days on my list if it weren’t for the awful final chapter. I would think that it was editorially mandated, but the fact the new status quo lasted all of 3 issues makes me wonder

I feel like war zone is under rated. Marvel needs to reprint that in trade form.

I agree that is a great thing to see “The Devil Inside and Out” making this list. That last panel alone is reason enough. I have re-read that storyline a few times now, and while normally I gloss over the actual pages on these lists I read that one just to get to the end…and it still gave me a laugh.

Final Days is pure Punisher fun (except for the last page) but that Daredevil story barely qualifies as a single issue or guest appearance, there are better ‘Frank tales’ that are essential and I wonder if Top 40 will suffice since Max imprint will take a lot of spots.
Waiting to see those oldies like Eurohit, Suicide Run and Year One (that should be in the Top 5).

“The Devil Inside and Out,” has one of the best moments with the Punisher ever. The scene where the Punisher kills a criminal in front of a cop and immediately gives up so he can be in jail with Daredevil was hilarious.

I want to read River of Blood one day since it should be interesting to see Joe Kubert draw the Punisher. I wish Kubert had drawn more Marvel characters (he would’ve been perfect for Captain America).

I was hoping Rucka’s run would be higher on the list.

I was hoping Rucka’s run would be higher on the list.

It kind of is.

I’m going to predict Daredevil (vol.1) #182-184 at the top spot. Or will people go nostalgic and his first appearance in Amazing Spider-man gets the top spot?

@ JohnDoe

Damn, I completely forgot about Year One. It would have made the bottom half of my top 10 for sure.

those joe kubert pages look fantastic. is this collected in any form?

those joe kubert pages look fantastic. is this collected in any form?

It was put into a trade called River of Blood. I believe it’s out of print, but you can get a copy of eBay for not too much money: http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Punisher-River-of-Blood-Softcover-Graphic-Novel-by-Marvel-/351545920405

Joe Kubert was truly one of the greatest. The ease and confidence in his linework is awesome.
While both his sons are worthy heirs, Kubert Sr. excells them to this day.

Zachary Alvarado

March 12, 2016 at 10:00 am

@ Brian Cronin

We should think #39 is higher than Rucka’s run deserves? lol…

Unless you mean Rucka’s War Zone will appear later. But if Rucka’s vanilla run is #39, I doubt it.

Rucka has more stories on the list.

Rucka’s run was alright. But I wanted to read about the Punisher. Not Rachel Alves.

I’ve never heard of Hugh Haynes, but I like that art a lot. Elements of Michael Golden and Chris Bachelor. What else has he done?

I have some comics interview comic size magazine (can’t remember the actual title of the thing) that has a Hugh Haynes interview. I know he did some Punisher and some Nexus. GCD has some Alpha Flight in the #60s, and the last(?) couple issues of the Ultraverse series Hardcase.

none of my picks yet – though it is good to see a variety including some Baron
(I did vote for one of the stories JohnDoe mentioned)

Boy, this got off and running fast.

The fact that we’re already on Vol 9(+) of Punisher says all that is wrong with the way comics are currently being run. Legit cancel something and bring it back? Sure. This? Meh.

That was a really good appearance in #36. Maybe not enough Punisher to get my vote, but a good story usage. Though all these are pretty good.

I’m going to have to read ‘The Devil Inside and Out.’ Somehow I like the idea that Daredevil has enough convention to let the Kingpin and Bullseye rot, but will definitely side with the Punisher if it came down to it. It’s all about a matter of degrees, and at least the Punisher has some sort of morality that Fisk doesn’t. That’s a very neat touch.

However, ‘The Final Days’ was about a lot more than the summary you gave. Microchip is kidnapped and Kingpin sends Frank one of Micro’s fingers. Fisk offers him a deal: do this favor and Microchip is let go. Of course, this is a setup that lands the Punisher in prison with Jigsaw. Jigsaw, seeking vengeance for his face (twice-over as ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ had him get healed and then get messed up again), finally achieves that vengeance. So now the Punisher, face infected, goes completely nuts as Microchip goes undercover to figure out exactly what is going on and how to help Castle.

So, it’s a bit deeper than the summary given in the article. In fact, ‘Final Days’ should have gone until Issue #63 as the whole ‘Punisher Turns Black’ disaster is part of the storyline. Sadly, there’s no real ending as the ‘Last Rites’ storyline sees the end of the Kingpin and they jam some protege named George into the mess so the Punisher as someone to blast away as is the case with most Punisher stories before Ennis. The real power of the story comes from wrapping up a few of the threads from the series and actually giving Jigsaw his due which makes him one of the very few people to get fucked over by Frank, then live, then actually get some measure of vengeance. Added bonus: Hugh Haynes draws a very disgusting Jigsaw, whose scars are now no longer stitched together but healed over. The effect is quite effectively disturbing, much more so than most depictions before or since.

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