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40 Greatest Punisher Stories: #15-6

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In honor of the Punisher debuting on Daredevil’s Netflix series tomorrow, 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!

WARNING: Some of these comics spotlighted were originally rated “explicit content,” so there is some “explicit content” here. Occasional profanity mostly.

Here’s #15-6! Enjoy!

15. “In the Beginning” (The Punisher Vol.6 #1-6)

This was the first arc in Garth Ennis’ revamped Punisher MAX series. This was one of the very rare occasions where the then-current writer on the series, Garth Ennis, was the one to reboot/revamp the series to take it dramatically away from what the then-current writer was doing. The previous series had gotten too comedic, so Ennis stopped and rebooted with this violent, yet studied, look at the Punisher. He also began to tie the Punisher in with military and CIA operations. The opening story finds the Punisher captured by the CIA and finds out his old friend, Microchip, is part of the group that wants to recruit Frank as an assassin for the government. It gets pretty rough between the two old friends…





Lewis Larosa and Tom Palmer did the artwork.

The problem is that the mob wants Punisher dead (more so than even normal) for an attack he made early in the storyline, so it is the mob versus the CIA over Frank Castle’s life. This springboarded into plots that would reverberate throughout the series.

14. “War Zone” Punisher War Zone #1-6

I have no idea what to call this storyline. The gist is that Chuck Dixon, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson put together this opening storyline in the Punisher’s THIRD ongoing title at the time, to show the Punisher infiltrating the mob as a mob enforcer who wipes out the opposition and then does “friendly fire” to slowly tear down the mob he is currently working for, as well. Of course, there’s always a catch. Here, there are two – one, Punisher might be falling for the daughter of the main boss and two, there’s this nutjob mercenary named Shotgun (brought over from Romita’s time on Daredevil) who is getting involved, as well.





The whole thing ends up with Punisher and Outlaw killing an entire island.

13. “Return to Big Nothing” (Punisher: Return to Big Nothing)

The creative team of the original Punisher mini-series, Steven Grant, Mike Zeck and John Beatty reunite for this story of the Punisher taking on an old comrade of his from Vietnam, a jerky guy who referred to Frank as “Big Nothing.” Now this guy is involved in all sorts of illegal activities and Punisher is here to take him down. He takes down some of his men at a brothel (after first enjoying a night with a prostitute)…





Go to the next page for #12-9!

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Surprised to see Kitchen Irish on there. Definitely the worst Ennis MAX arc by a mile. Also a little surprised to see The End and The Cell. I’m assuming top 5 are Born, Man of Stone, Long Cold Dark, and Welcome Back Frank which all deserve it, and then probably The Slavers which doesn’t.

I would say it will play out like the last poll for numbers 1,2 and 3. The Slavers will be number one (as it rightly should be), followed by Born and then Welcome Back Frank. Steven Grants Circle of Blood arc will be in the top 5 which leaves just one spot left. The only MAX arc left to go in Ennis’ run is Widowmaker which I assume will take the remaining spot. If that turns out to be true I’m actually surprised it placed so high over other arcs like Mother Russia. If its not then Possibly some other arc from his Marvel Knights ongoing? Brotherhood perhaps.

Happy to see Chuck Dixons work place high. Hoped there would be more of it.

Small typo with Scott Koblish.

This line up is playing out how I expected. But I have to say, I find barracuda appalling and I also think Frank with hookers is like Peter Parker smoking pot.

Was never a fan of the end of The End. Frank killing of all the big wigs that sat back and watched the world burn was fine, but he ended up going around slaughtering tons of simple doctors, security guards, etc… that posed no threat to him and were the same people he was supposedly “avenging.” At that point, I realized Ennis had said all he could with the character and was just jacking it to whatever violence he could cook up.

Knew I could rely on good ol’ local boy Ennis to put some *real* dialect into irish mouths. :D

“It is kind of insane.”

It is one of the most insane comics I’ve ever read, and I include Frank Miller in that.

WAYYYYYYY TOO MUCH ENNIS. It’s like people never read pre-Ennis Punisher. I expected to see much more Baron, and Dixon, among others. Very disappointing list.

So if the top five are the obvious ones, that means 10 of the top 12 Punisher stories (and 14 of the top 20) will have been written by Garth Ennis, with Widowmaker being the only one of his 14 Punisher Max stories to miss the list. Though it is interesting that not a single story from Ennis’ first Punisher ongoing series will appear on the list.

I’m surprised to see Barracuda and Kitchen Irish this high on the list. In the corners of the internet I used to frequent they were considered to be among the low points of Ennis’ run. I wouldn’t call them actively bad or anything but they wouldn’t make my top 40.

I’m surprised to see Barracuda and Kitchen Irish this high on the list. In the corners of the internet I used to frequent they were considered to be among the low points of Ennis’ run. I wouldn’t call them actively bad or anything but they wouldn’t make my top 40.

Most of Ennis’ run got close to the same amount of support, so it was practically a ten-way tie with a lot of the arcs.

Frankly, if I thought Ennis really had any low points in his run, they’d still be better than most non-Ennis Punisher stories. Punisher is a character that I feel had a long sustained history of really subpar stories and lack of vision. He often was written more boringly than you’d expect, not many memorable supporting characters, generic villains.

i was wondering when black and white and up and down would show up though surprised it did not crack the top five given how seems under enis control the punisher gets shown how messed up he really is as a character. plus also was wondering if barcuda would get any loving on this list story wise.

How about Top 10 Greatest Punisher writers?

@Annoyed Grunt: I recall liking both of them when I first read them, in part because they were nice stand-alone stories compared to the rest of Ennis’ run. Nowadays I think Barracuda is merely okay (I didn’t vote for it) but it’s still a fun story, and it’s a fun gimmick of Punisher taking on white-collar crime (as Brian notes with Punisher-as-a-spy, you wouldn’t want to see it all the time, but it’s alright in small doses and as an alternative to his usual stuff).

Kitchen Irish I quite liked (and did vote for) because it’s just a nice, “Punisher takes on the bad guys” story. I remember really enjoying the execution of it, the characterisation of all the different gangs, and the what it all builds up to. And man, Punisher (MAX) #10 just has a fantastic cover.

What is wrong with you people?! How is Jason Aaron’s MAX run not in the top 10 or top 5?! And no one else is commenting on that fact except me. I’m losing my mind.

Barracuda’s return was a much better story than his initial appearance, even then the character is too damn cartoon-y.

I understand why The Tyger ranked the lowest of Ennis’ one-shots. But it is several orders of magnitude better than The Cell and The End.

Couple more of mine showing up. The first and best War Zone story. And my #1 overall, Return to Big Nothing. It’s the most self contained story epitomizing what the Punisher is, and the last 5th didn’t have his best artist taken away.

So from the description it hit me…how much of Barracuda is in Negan?

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