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CSBG Archive

40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #35-31

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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 latest results of what you chose as the 40 Greatest Punisher Stories!

Here’s #35-31! Enjoy!

35. “Archie Meets the Punisher” (Archie Meets the Punisher #1)

This offbeat tale is one of the strangest inter-company comic book crossovers of all-time, but it also somehow really does work. I did a full spotlight on the issue here, but basically, the comic is based on a simple, but extremely effective concept…mistaken identity!

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In a really clever move, both the characters are introduced as if their introductions are the first pages of a short Archie-style story. “Wet Works”…

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and then “Shtick to your Guns”…

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As it turns out, the Punisher is not the only one who is on the hunt for the crook known as “Red.” Some hitmen are out to get him, as well, and they and the Punisher both converge on Archie and Jughead, leading to an awesome meeting scene…

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Batton Lash wrote the comic and Stan Goldberg handled the Archie side of things and John Buscema handled the Punisher side of things.

The whole thing climaxes at the school dance and then when “Red” kidnaps Veronica and everyone has to team-up to save her. It’s really a wonderfully clever and well-executed comic, drawn by two comic book art legends.

34. “The Omega Effect” (Avenging Spider-Man #6, Daredevil Vol.3 #11, The Punisher Vol.9 #10)

A big part of the early issues of Mark Waid’s initial Daredevil run was involving the “Omega Drive,” a device with all sorts of bad info about all the major criminal organizations, that existed to create a stalemate amongst the groups. You know, you try to mess with us, we mess with you. The Omega Drive was kept at a neutral location. Anyhow, Daredevil somehow ended up with it and now all the super-criminal organizations, including The Exchange, the evil group who massacred Rachel Cole Alves’ wedding day, want it. So Daredevil, Spider-Man, the Punisher and the Punisher’s new sort-of-protege, Alves, are working together to come up with a plan where they can destroy the Omega Drive in front of all of the groups so that they know Daredevil no longer has it (as they are ruining Daredevil’s life trying to come after him constantly).

The four people discuss their plans…

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In a clever bit, Marco Checchetto drew all three issues of the three different titles. Waid and Rucka co-wrote the first part and then each wrote their own individual issue.

The big twist in the series is when Alves can’t help but double-cross everyone to get a hold of the Omega Drive for herself for the information it contains on the Exchange. So it becomes a bit of a melee, with the characters fighting the bad guys AND themselves.

33. “Frank” (Punisher Max #12-16)

Jason Aaron somehow managed to take Garth Ennis’ work on Punisher and go even DARKER in his excellent run on the sequel series, Punisher Max (Ennis’ Punisher was part of the Max line but was not explicitly titled so, unlike Aaron’s sequel). Drawn by the great Steve Dillon, this storyline has the Punisher in prison, where he reflects on whether he wants to even keep on fighting/living anymore.

He reflects to a time at a military hospital in Vietnam when a fellow patient tells him that he can see in Frank’s eyes that Frank will never be finished with war. The guy turns out to be nuts and kills his nurses and tries to escape. He asks Frank to join him, to not return back to “normal” society. Before he can answer, the hospital guards kill the man. Frank has to wonder – WOULD he have joined him had they not killed him? DOES he not want to ever return to normal society? He thinks of this while he sits in a prison hospital bed, in a BRILLIANT sequence where two rival prison gangs each come to kill him, but each keep psyching themselves out that he can’t possibly be as helpless as he looks in his hospital bed. They talk themselves into believing that it is a trap. Meanwhile, Frank thinks back to the trap HE lived through, his return to his family…

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Dark, dark stuff.

The rest of the arc tells two stories, Frank’s inability to adjust back to normal life back home with his family and Frank’s inability to NOT die in prison.

Go to the next page for #32-31!

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12 Comments

Controversial opinion, but I have a preference for Aaron/Dillion/Hollingsworth PunisherMAX to Ennis’ PunisherMAX. The Dillion’s work has never been sharper and Hollingsworth colors are fantastic, and Aaron has a wonderful voice for the material. Loved his inclusion of supervillians but also his exploration into Frank’s psyche. I loved how he put him and the Kingpin as dark mirror images, and how Frank ultimately overcame the very symbol of street crime he’s been fighting against.

*Gasp!*

I get where you’re coming from even if I don’t agree. Aaron, Dillon, & co. told a complete story, did a good job with it, and got out. I prefer Ennis’s (Max) take because I think Aaron amped up certain characters’ cartooniness a bit too much (especially Bullseye). Ennis did so with Barracuda, but most of the stories were consistently somber. I voted for “Frank” in my top 10 because the creative team did a fantastic job getting us inside the Punisher’s head in a way no one else had.

Did people really like that Omega Drive crossover? I thought it was ok but not as good as the better Waid DD issues. Between Rivera, Martin, & Samnee, the more conventional art from that story looked dull. I don’t remember much from it at all.

I read the first volume of Jason Aaron and Steve Dillion’s Punisher and really enjoyed it. When I get time, I’ll have to finish it.

Still can’t believe John Buscema worked on a Punisher/Archie crossover.

ASM #129 is my 1st (needed something to round out the top 10, and it is an historical treasure after all).

Eager to see which other of my non-Ennis picks makes the cut!

Cool Lester Smooth

March 12, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Love Dillon…but Young Frank looked way too much like John Custer, haha.

Mike, I loved the Omega Drive crossover, but mainly from a Daredevil perspective. The only clear moment I remember is when Alves talks about needing to lose loved ones to be truly effective, and Matt barely holds back from beating her like Bendis had him beat Bullseye.

Hate me for this, but Steve Dillon’s works work superbly in more “grounded”-realistic and brutal themes. Hence, his works in Preacher, Punisher (both Aaron and Ennis), and some Wolverine stuffs work magic for his style, which I really love, particularly the Ennis-Punisher runs. But in most of his works in the superhero genre, his artwork is so awkward, if not bland.

David Spofforth

March 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Steve Dillon is a brilliant artist. Even from his youth. Can’t believe Marvel have never reprinted his Marvel UK Nick Fury run from the late 70s.

interesting expected to not see archie vs the punisher show up till the top ten. plus seems the punisher over the years has done more crossing paths with daredevil then any other mu character. given how almost every other story involves the punisher and some daredevil character

I never liked Dillon’s art and most of the time it puts me off, getting through Preacher was almost a chore for me. Modern stuff is obviously good but it’s nice to see that people remember some classics (Jigsaw Puzzle, anyone ?).

If I had a last cut it was probably the Archie one. Taking such a horrible idea and making it work so well gets bonus points from me.

It’s certainly important, but is Punisher’s first appearance really that good? The design/copy is well done, but they basically make him a stooge for the big bad, who is far lamer and more forgotten than this creation. Are there any other super popular characters who had more throw away first appearances than him and Wolverine? (Not many who have earned their way to the movie or tv screen. Maybe Blade? But he’s not really THAT popular.)

“his Marvel UK Nick Fury run from the late 70s”

WHAT

Can’t believe the Aaron/Dillon stuff isn’t higher on the list.

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