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40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #30-26

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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 #30-26! Enjoy!

30. “Suicide Run” (Punisher #85-88, Punisher War Journal #61-64 and Punisher War Zone #23-25)

The concept of “Suicide Run” was conspicuously adapted from the mega-hit Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen storylines. In the first part of the story, the Punisher is seemingly killed taking down a bunch of bad guys, and in the aftermath of his seeming death, a whole bunch of “replacement” Punishers pop up, including some joke ones (including an out of shape couch potato) and some more serious ones (a female cop, a masked guy calling himself Payback and a black British vigilante calling himself Outlaw – Outlaw has recently been brought back as part of Marvel’s Contest of Champions title).

Here are a couple of them together…

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Like the Reign of the Supermen, the basic idea seemed to be to introduce new characters into the titles. The whole thing was written by Chuck Dixon, Steven Grant and Larry Hama and drawn mostly by Gary Kwapisz, Hugh Haynes and John Buscema.

29. “War Zone” (Punisher War Zone #1-6)

In an odd bit of timing, Marvel released this series soon after the most recent Punisher film came out, which was called Punisher War Zone. It was a reunion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, as they returned to the (surviving) characters and storytelling approach of their classic “Welcome Back, Frank.”

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So lots and lots of dark humor. But fun characters and dark humor can make for a fun read. As far as nostalgic returns to classic storylines go, Ennis and Dillon do really well with their material here.

28. “Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?” (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15)

The then-creative team on Daredevil, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, teamed up with Amazing Spider-Man writer Denny O’Neil for this classic annual about Doctor Octopus trying to poison New York City, while the Punisher stalks him and Spider-Man tries to deal with both of them. The story is best known for its stunning use of newspaper front pages to move the story forward…

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There’s an especially good bit where J. Jonah Jameson has to go back to his traditional “Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?” headline when he realizes he can’t tell the truth about how Doctor Octopus nearly poisoned all of the ink that the Daily Bugle uses.

You can tell Miller and Janson had a blast with the climactic fight at the Bugle printing plant. Such great art. As are all of the fight scenes in the issue (even if the Punisher probably does too well against Spider-Man in his initial fight with him – sounds like a future Wrong Side!).

Go to the next page for #27-26!

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11 Comments

I’m a little surprised that the entirety of the Rucka stories ranked pretty low. Of course now I’m dreading that the top 20 is an Ennis fest. I did really like his War Zone.

“he rest of the series sees the Punisher try to stay one step ahead of the Punisher” mmm, probable mistake or a really trippy series?

My problem with (rucka’s) war zone is why did it get past issue 3? Thor goes after him and of course easily beats him, but then just talks to him and let’s him go and the Avengers go right back to chasing him?

interesting to see ruka run on the title not making the top ten or twenty. not to mention the fact he seems to just be mostly used for daredevil or spider man when they need a head ache . plus also was wondering where that one story showed up guess junior learned the hard way who was really the dumb animal

I don’t remember why I got the Rucka War Zone series, but I did, and it is highly enjoyable (if a little tough to swallow that he can outmaneuver all of the Avengers as well as he does). From this and the Omega Effect, though, I don’t think I like Rucka’s Spider-Man very much.

One reason Rucka’s run isn’t rated higher is because a much larger proportion have not read it because it was only released once in tpb’s and they very quickly went out of print.

Hmmmm, two Punisher War Zones 1-5, and neither is the one I voted for. I like the first one, because, I mean, monkey junk, but the second one makes no sense. They’re sitting there debating the Punisher with WOLVERINE on the team. They might as well make their life easy and take him in first. And if you want to debate condoning things, you basically have a government assassin on the team in Black Widow going after him. And we won’t even count how many guys/beings/trolls/whatever Thor and pummeled to death. It’s amazing Cap didn’t cry.

But this list DID have my first voted entry on here at 28, with the Amazing Spiderman annual. Beyond even the great Miller art, and storytelling tropes, while it certainly is a Spiderman story, what makes a great story is if you could say it’s also a great Punisher story, or a great Doctor Octopus story too. Heck, it’s a pretty darn good Daily Bugle story.

Just to be pedantic, Lynn Michaels, Payback and Outlaw weren’t introduced in Suicide Run but rather returning characters who adopted the Punisher mantle (except for Payback who was already an anti-punisher)

M-Wolverine, it’s about compromise really. If you tell the Punisher to cut it out with the killing, he won’t listen at all. Whereas Wolverine has been on the journey of becoming a better person forever, same with the Widow.

Duff, the thing is, is that even true anymore? It was well before the time of the Avengers that Wolverine was the guy who killed people but was really trying to be a better man and not be an animal. But it’s been decades since I can remember him regretting going berserk. He really just kills whoever he feels needs it and doesn’t ever regret it. And that’s the Avenges Wolverine. Claremont Wolverine wasn’t “badazz” he was a failed samurai. This guy is just indestructible Punisher now.

And Black Widow started out as just a Lady Spy, but had to become all special forces secret agent now. So she kills for shady government agencies rather than for crimes. Meh.

@ Steve
The Avengers are a high profile group with links to the U.S. Government and, as a result, are not completely above the law.
In this story Steve Rogers wants the Punisher arrested and put on trial using American law in an American court making it more important that the Avengers do not blatantly, significantly break international law

to recap the plot, after being tipped off by Wolverine, the Punisher left USA and headed to a country where the Avengers had no legal right to arrest him or deport him to America.
Without support from the local government or the U.N. the Avengers black ops specialist, the Black Widow, tries to covertly spirit the Punisher back too USA where the police would stumble on him and arrest him while the Avengers deny having anything to do with it.
When that fails, Captain Steve is happy to switch to the alternative plan and send in Thor.

If Thor forcefully took the Punisher back to USA it would be an illegal act of abduction and everyone would know about it (Thor isn’t as sneaky as the Black Widow)
As a result, many countries would complain to the U.N. about the precedent (afraid that the Avengers may start kidnapping their citizens) and this would pressure the U.S. Government resulting in a clampdown on the Avengers possibly leading to disbandment.
Meanwhile, the trial against the Punisher would collapse due to the illegality of his arrest.

to avoid this bad result, Thor does not abduct the Punisher but simply talks to him to persuade him to willingly return to U.S. soil. The moment the Punisher returns, the Avengers have the law on their side again…

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