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40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #25-16

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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 #25-16! Enjoy!

25. “Dark Reign” Punisher Vol.8 #1-10, Dark Reign: The List – The Punisher #1

Matt Fraction had started the approach of having the Punisher attack supervillains in the series that led into this one, Punisher War Journal (the theory was to have two Punisher series, one by Garth Ennis in its own grounded universe and one by Fraction set clearly in the Marvel Universe) but Rick Remender took that idea and kicked it up a whole other notch in this series.

It was based on the basic idea of the Punisher deciding that it was his duty to kill Norman Osborn. But as we see right from the start (art by the great Jerome Opena)…

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Punisher was very much out of his depth here. Norman Osborn gave his evil cohort, the Hood, the assignment of taking the Punisher down and things got WEIRD, as the Hood brought a bunch of villains who were killed by the Scourge back to kill the Punisher, aided by a resurrected Microchip. Along the way, the Punisher got a new assistant, whose father was a familiar foe to the Punisher. When the Hood got the Punisher’s dead family involved? Well, things got even WEIRDER. The whole thing led to Norman Osborn sending a bunch of troops and Wolverine (Daken) to kill Punisher…which they then do.

24. “The Creep and the Bully” (Punisher Vol.2 #10/Daredevil #257)

This was a crossover by Mike Baron and Ann Nocenti. This is one of those stories where we see it from both character’s perspectives (as Daredevil tries to stop the Punisher from killing some psychopath who has been poisoning people). The first look at the fight came from Punisher #10, where While Portacio and Scott Williams do a good enough job…

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but Daredevil #257 is a whole other level, from Nocenti’s decision to have the fight narrated by the psychopath to John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson’s brilliant artwork…

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23. “Death Sentence” (Marvel Preview #2)

Gerry Conway and Tony DeZuniga introduce for the first time the Punisher’s origin in his black and white tale from Marvel’s magazine line…

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Go to the next page for #22-19!

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23 Comments

korvan the defiler

March 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Means and ends has to be one of the most underrated comic books ever

I think I mistook ‘Man of Stone’ for ‘Mother Russia’ when I cast my votes. Still a great story, though.

Frank Castle sure fights Daredevil a lot, and I know there’s at least one, possibly two more coming up.

Glad to see all of Remender’s run made it. Shit was a lot of fun, with some great art from Jerome Opena and Tony Moore. There a million Punisher comics where he shoots up anonymous minorities and italian gangsters, surely the world can allow one where he fights jetpack-wielding samurais and the living embodiment of an Iron Maiden cover. Especially when the art is that good.

I love how The Creep and the Bully was used later by Rucka.

A former coworker told me the best comic of all time was ‘the one where The Punisher goes back in time to fight caveman Wolverine.” It took me along time to realize he meant The African Saga.

Man, americans sure do get off on their founding myth, don’t they?

Anyways, glad to see that Barracuda (either of his appearances) comes higher on the list than Herman Munster on a bad day.

That Lapham mini is getting reprinted soon, it’s offered in the current Previews, for anyone (like me!) who doesn’t have it.

My favorite Punisher story is two panels of JLA/Avengers, but somehow I don’t think that one’s gonna place.

I just love how Daken killed Frank in that brutal no-holds barred mano a mano standalone issue. That’s the last John Romita Jr. art that I fully like. So. Brutal.

Jeez, that’s a whole lot of baby killing in those last two.

This just makes me want to go back and reread the entirety of Ennis’ MAX run.

I forgot all about Tyger. I need to dig that one out and give it a reread!

was wondering if the punisher part of dark reign would make the list even as a one of the few messed up punisher stories. plus means and ends was wondering where when it showed it would be on the list too. proof the punisher is really one of marvels more dark messed up characters

What makes the whole ‘Frankencastle’ storyline so brilliantly weird is that it comes right after “A Good Lie,” which may be the most heartbreaking way the Punisher has ever died: fighting against a superior opponent, knowing it’s for nothing, and then just getting brutally dismembered while the narration goes over to his last thoughts. It’s hard to read and at the end when Osborn has won and Daken has done his job and Frank lies in pieces on the ground and seconds before he finally expires….it’s pretty brutal stuff. Most stories that have the Punisher dying usually have him going by his own terms. This story shows him going out the way he probably would have wanted to die, thinking of his family, and realizing that is just his brain trying to give him some resolution before he passes. And it follows through that as the character of the Punisher went from ‘obsessive vengeance’ to ‘nothing but vengeance/family is an excuse and a dim one at that,’ and that makes it even more horrible. There’s no heaven for Frank, just a delusion as he goes to the same fate he knew he was going to get. He’s torn apart both physically and emotionally, and now the damage is complete.

Then you have the Legion of Monsters putting him back together again. And it somehow works. It’s on the level of the Doctor Who stories ‘Caves of Androzani’ and ‘Twin Dilemma’ and by all rights should be just as drastic as a change of tone. But this one works because Frankencastle just makes sense. The Punisher as a Frankenstein, the downtrodden are former members of Marvel Horror, and all of it seems so very wrong…but so very right. I’ll have to read it again to explain why, but I think those stories achieve something that has plagued the Punisher character since the ’80s: that he’s a realistic character in an unrealistic world and somehow he manages to play that line if you do it correctly. Maybe it was because Garth Ennis’ ‘Welcome Back Frank’ just has the Punisher accept that weird shit happens and rolls with it where most writers would get hung up on making the Marvel Universe gritty as a whole (which never works) or the Punisher as a lightweight cartoony figure with some guns (which is what sunk Punisher Vol. 3 which had him ‘die’ and then get Remo-Williamsed back into working for the government and the X-Cutioner and then facing off against Jigsaw who now is the Reverse-Punisher and…) who can’t exist as he is with the rest of the Marvel Universe. And Ennis showed that yes, yes he can exist, and today we have a better Punisher for it. And maybe that’s why Frankencastle works so well?

I have no idea, but that may be in. Now I have to lie down, I think I referenced waaaay too much stuff.

Gerry Conway showing his ignorance there, in the B&W story. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not a military award; it’s given to civilians. The Medal of Honor is the highest award bestowed upon a service member.

Jeff Nettleton

March 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

ps
Judging by the uniform, it looks like they hadn’t decided on Castle being a Marine, yet, as that looks a heck of a lot more like an Army uniform than Marines (apart from the beret). I haven’t read that story in years; so, I don’t recall if they give his branch of service. Hard to say if they originally intended him to be Special Forces, the artist made a mistake with the uniform, or what the case may have been.

So basically Colossus killed the Marvel Universe by holding Wolverine back from killing Frank outright.

Throw ten consecutive darts at a pile of Ennis penned MAX Punisher books and you have a solid top ten

I like a lot of Remenders’ work, but for some reason I wasn’t a big fan of his Punisher. Dark Reign was kinda meh to me, and whilst Frankencastle was good, for me it took a little while to get going and then ended a little bit too quickly. It’s a pity, it was a cool concept.

Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe was a good comic, but looking at it now, Cyclops being fairly nonchalant about accidentally killing civilians feels very Ennis-y. I like a lot of his work but I’ve also got some pet peeves with his work and one of them is the way that he often goes out of his way to express his dislike for superheroes.

The Tyger was really really good, and really really dark. Probably one of the stronger MAX issues.

Long Cold Dark and Man of Stone weren’t too bad, but they didn’t really grab me like earlier MAX arcs had.

The whole Franken-Castle stuff to me is just an embarrassment. So much so, that it made me question the comics medium in general and whether I should still buy Marvel Comics.

Well, almost half my list is here. And considered Kills the Marvel U and should have remembered Tyger. But 24, 23, 22, and 18 I voted for.

I’ll second that Ennis was great but he tries to be shocking so much it’s not shocking anymore. As said above, how many babies can you kill before it stops being edgy and is just gratuitous?

korvan the defiler
March 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Means and ends has to be one of the most underrated comic books ever

SECONDED!

Travis Pelkie
March 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm

That Lapham mini is getting reprinted soon, it’s offered in the current Previews, for anyone (like me!) who doesn’t have it.

COOL, I’LL BUY THE TRADE AND SAVE MY ISSES!

Means and Ends blew me away. I knew Dave Lapham was great, but I really didn’t expect it to be THAT good.

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